Trout farm no ‘fishy business’ for Frank

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By Kate Foreman

Australia’s first on-shore sustainable ocean trout farm is smoking hot.

The Limestone Coast’s Austar Mariculture is leading the way in sustainable fish farming and producing popular smoked and fresh trout for South Australian fish lovers.

Taiwanese engineer Frank Tsai immigrated to Australia more than 15 years ago with the vision of creating a sustainable Barramundi farm in Port Adelaide.

“It wasn’t very successful there and so we moved here,” Frank says.

Farming Barramundi wasn’t to be, and Frank set his sights on Abalone farming instead.

When that also fell through, he found that the Limestone Coast waters between Beachport and South End were perfect quality and temperature for farming ocean trout.

All the infrastructure and facilities have been setup by Frank, which makes his farm even more interesting.

Trout eggs are brought from Springfield hatchery in Tasmania, and hatched at Austar.

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Trout tanks at Beachport

From the hatchery, trout fingerlings are put into fresh water tanks with water being pumped from watercress ponds.

“The watercress is a by-product used to remove the ammonia from discharged waste water so it can be reused,” Frank says.

“It is very sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Once big enough the fish are slowly transferred into sea water tanks to help boost their growth – and that’s where they stay until harvest.

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The advantage of a land-based farm is that the trout are protected from marine predators, and the environment and the effluent can be controlled.

Frank produces 300kg of fresh and smoked trout a week, which is sold at a number of outlets in South Australia – including their own farm-direct at the Adelaide Central Markets.

Frank also travels to Mount Gambier on Saturdays to sell his products at the Limestone Coast Farmers Market, and then to Robe and Penola some Sundays when the Limestone Coast Farmers and Makers Market is held.

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Owner-operator Frank Tsai with employee Chris Hill at the company’s saltwater pumping station.

“People like our products, they are chemical free, vacuumed sealed and guaranteed fresh,” says Frank.

“When people say our products are very beautiful, I feel all the hard work has paid off.”

A hard worker by nature, Frank can be known to work up to 18 hours a day farming his product – a challenge he faces head on as one of the most successful primary producers on the Limestone Coast.

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