Message from Erica
24 September 2020
Indian Ocean Fresh Australia (IOFA) will pause production of their award-winning Geraldton Kingfish whilst monitoring the impact of COVID-19 disruptions to the hospitality industry and key markets.
Owner and director Erica Starling said she would not be undertaking a 2020 re-stocking the ocean pens off the coast of Geraldton, whilst there is much uncertainty as to what markets will look like in the near term.
Due to COVID-19, disruptions have extended right through supply chains. It has also become clear in the last few months that there is a lot of fish not only in Australia, but in sea pens and freezers around the world across a variety of species that suggests markets and logistics will remain challenging for a while longer.
IOFA has just completed the harvests of the larger market size fish around 4- 5kg as scheduled so there was a natural decision point in the farming cycle. When it came time to put the next batch of baby fish to sea we had to question if we would be able to profitably sell these as full size fish in 2021. So we have made the hard decision not to put this cohort of baby fish to sea. These fish were growing in tanks on land and have just been harvested and sold at a smaller size, just under 1kg each.
IOFA will be ‘sitting out’ this next round of production as we assess what future markets may look like. We retain our sites, live brood stock and equipment. Research projects are still being undertaken and the know-how and IP on growing Yellowtail Kingfish in the Midwest of course remains. Broodstock for an additional species have been carefully nurtured since mid-2019 providing further options for IOFA. The development of the new fish nursery in Geraldton, scheduled for completion in August 2021 will also be monitored.
We are basically ‘skipping this crop’ to assess how things are going to look in a year’s time.
This has been a difficult decision to make considering the impact on the entire team and other Geraldton businesses which we deal with and we would like to express heartfelt thanks to all staff, our suppliers and supporters in the Midwest region; as well as the distributors in Perth and across Australia.
We would like to thank all the chefs and hospitality operators whom have created some wonderful dishes with creativity and passion for high quality seafood and supported our regional business. Very special thanks to the consumers and diners who have enjoyed the lovely award winning fish to date.
On a personal note it is also an opportunity to take some ‘time out’ and refresh. A ‘grown up’ gap year!
I know I am not alone in saying that many small business owners find it challenging to take regenerative time out of their businesses. Therefore I am viewing this as ‘long service leave’ and am looking forward to having time to consider and explore fresh ideas in aquaculture and how to adjust and adapt to the post pandemic world, when it becomes clearer.
2020 has been a very different and challenging year for all of us.
Stay safe and well in these uncertain times!
IOFA Fact File:
Indian Ocean Fresh Australia (IOFA) is a Geraldton business operating an ocean-based finfish farm in the waters of Champion Bay, Geraldton, Western Australia
IOFA supplied premium Yellowtail Kingfish to the domestic Australian seafood market and international export markets
Owned and operated by Erica Starling, IOFA have been marine finfish farming in Geraldton since 2008, firstly with Mulloway and now with Yellowtail Kingfish
Successful trials in 2011-2014 of Yellowtail Kingfish marine finfish farming in conjunction with the Mid West Development Commission led to commercial production
2017 Premier's Agriculture and Aquaculture Entrepreneurship Program -Justine Arnold (IOFA Production Manager)
2018 State Winner, Delicious Produce Awards
2018 Gold Medal, RAS NSW Sydney Royal Fine Food Show
2019 People Development Award - Erica Starling Western Australian Seafood Industry Awards
2019 Young Achievers Award - Justine Arnold (IOFA Production Manager), Western Australian Seafood Industry Awards AND National Seafood Awards
2019 Gold Medal, RASV, Australian Food Awards
2019 Best in Class Winner, Fresh Fish Category, RASV, Australian Food Awards
2019 Champion Seafood, RASV, Australia Food Awards
2020 State Winner, Delicious Produce Awards