Fishing for freshness in Australia’s seafood capital

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By Melissa Keogh

Port Lincoln’s Lana Harvey knows a fresh fish when she sees one.

It’s all in the eyes, she says.

“You can tell by the look of their eyes, that’s a pretty easy tell-tale sign,” says the Fresh Fish Place’s wholesale logistics manager.

But quality is a given where Lana works – Port Lincoln, the country’s seafood capital and home to the largest fishing fleet in the Southern Hemisphere.

When a diner in a high-end Sydney restaurant is sliding their fork through a King George whiting, it’s possible that same fish was selected by Lana just 24 hours earlier.

The Fresh Fish Place's Lana Harvey is responsible for selecting high-quality premium seafood for distribution across Australia.

The Fresh Fish Place’s Lana Harvey with a Spencer Gulf hiramasa kingfish.

Lana is The Fresh Fish Place’s go-to woman for finding high-grade, wild caught and farmed seafood and selling it onto five star restaurants and even celebrity chefs.

When a professional fisherman arrives at the Port Lincoln factory, Lana is ready to survey the quality of the catch.

“When I see something good come through the doors, that is exciting,” she says.

“When a car pulls up I’m straight outside and when it’s quality I’m straight on the phone and I can’t wait to get it to destinations all over Australia.

“The quality speaks for itself and sells itself.”

The family-owned Fresh Fish Place is the Eyre Peninsula’s largest seafood supplier, with a throughput of about 200 tonnes of seafood annually.

Species include deep-sea flathead, southern garfish, King George whiting, Spencer Gulf hiramasa kingfish, queen snapper, gummy shark and bluefin tuna.

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The Fresh Fish Place includes a factory direct seafood outlet and fish café.

Other marine species include Coffin Bay, Franklin Harbour and Smokey Bay oysters, Bass Strait scallops, Port Lincoln black mussels, Coffin Bay sand crabs, and southern calamari.

The seafood is supplied to hotels, restaurants, fish shops and supermarkets.

Port Lincoln born Lana says The Fresh Fish Place struggles to keep up with demand for supply, as South Australian seafood continues to be recognised as world class.

Every fish that comes through the doors must meet strict sustainability criteria, including size limits.

“When we are receiving fish we are required to check sizes and if it’s undersized we are required to report it,” Lana says.

“For the commercial fishery, quotas also help with maintaining our sustainable fishing industry.”

Lana says seafood quality is maintained from the moment the fish is hooked by the fisherman.

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The Fresh Fish Place is home to 27 employees and has a throughput of about 200 tonnes of seafood every year.

“The moment the fish is caught to the moment it’s cooked and ready to put on your plate, it must be kept at temperature, generally 5C or under is ideal.”

“We absolutely have some of the best seafood in the world and the way that it’s managed is brilliant.”

The Fresh Fish Place is also a factory direct seafood outlet and fish café, attracting 40,000 customers every year.

With 50% of the customers being visitors, the fish café is a popular spot to enjoy a pan fried or battered fish shortly after its been filleted straight off the production table.

Along with public tours of the factory, The Fresh Fish Place also incorporates the Port Lincoln Seafood Cooking School which brings together the culinary profession and seafood marketers.

One of 27 Fresh Fish Place employees, Lana says she’s proud to be a part of the SA seafood industry, a sector responsible for 2300 direct jobs.

“Port Lincoln is the seafood capital of Australia and it shows in the quality of the seafood that comes out of the region,” she says.

“We have beautiful clean waters and a huge, naturally deep harbour – it’s a beautiful fishing environment.”

Lana Harvey is an I Choose SA for Seafood ambassador. Listen to her story below.

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