Delicious Luxury

Ferguson Australia Lobsters

“Out of all of that,” Debra explains, “we came up with our branded range of lobster medallions and lobster sashimi, which will be available from late January, lobster cooked meat and the lobster oil.”

Sadly, Ferguson Australia – as well as hundreds of other family fishing businesses throughout the country – is in hot water. The government is imposing marine parks and no go fishing zones in prime hotspots, threatening the future of commercial fishing.

Supreme Quality

Ferguson Australia is an award winning family company founded on a passion for fresh seafood. “Ferguson Fishery was our core business originally,” explains Debra. “My husband and his father were lobster fishermen.” Over the years, the family travelled, doing market research. They were examining the perception of lobster in Australia and overseas to gauge whether it was viable to remain in the industry. “We found out a lot of interesting misconceptions about Australian seafood in Europe and Japan as well as around Australia.” Due to the “shrimp on the barbie” tourism industry at the time, people thought that Australia was too hot, dry and uncivilised to be producing high quality seafood. Seafood was also intimidating to many consumers who did not know the proper way to store, prepare and cook it.

After four years of research and development, the Fergusons decided to develop a brand and a brand strategy. “What we looked at was developing a gourmet product that we could recommend and confidently trace coming from the boat right through to the end customer.” This kind of traceability, along with caring for the environment and the fishing stock, has always been a high priority for Ferguson Australia, and the company has done a lot of work over the years in this area. With both input and output controls in place to look after the lobster population and ensure they will be there for future generations, Ferguson Australia has been operating in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner for 45 years, with the third generation of the family now becoming involved.

Today, Ferguson Australia is renowned for the supreme quality of its seafood fished from the pristine waters of the Southern Ocean. “Our fishing boats fish from Kangaroo Island,” Debra explains. “There are 46 different species of Rock Lobster around the world and we’ve got four species in Australia.” The magnificent Southern Rock lobster is the most sought after lobster in the world, with a rich, sweet flavour.

Political Turmoil

There is a lot of anger brewing in the industry regarding the government implementing marine parks and no go fishing zones in fishing hotspots. It is estimated that this move will reduce the fishing zone for Ferguson Australia by a staggering 55 per cent. The no go fishing zones, according to the government, will take no more that 5 per cent off the fishing grounds. What has actually happened, however, is that the government has targeted the best fishing areas in the Northern Zone – catastrophic for commercial fishing.

Debra emphasises how important the proper management of the fishery is to conserve the stock and protect the environment. “It’s not like a paddock that you can just fish equally so it’s very, very important that you fish in certain areas and then you rest them.”

The government, she explains, has ignored science and reasoning in this realm, and will be putting a massive strain on the fishery. “What they’ve done is they’ve actually locked up all our hotspots which means we’ll be forced to fish in areas where it’s not very productive.” In this particular situation, these no go fishing zones are a bad idea. “It’s like putting your sheep into a paddock and just leaving them there indefinitely and not moving them or rotating them.”

Australia is already third in the world for marine parks behind New Zealand and Canada. “It’s not so much the marine parks that we’re against, it’s the no go fishing zones,” says Debra, who says that Australian fishing companies are in fact by and large environmentally sensitive conservationists. Kangaroo Island has a population of 4000 people and just recently 1500 people rallied in support of commercial fishing companies. “It was amazing to watch the support from the community toward primary producers and family business.”

The Australian fishing industry is world renowned for sustainability, having garnered many international awards. “We pay licence fees every year to the fisheries management and they’re considerable, $26, 000 per licence per year, and that is to make sure that the fishery is sustainable,” says Debra. It is a highly regulated industry that produces some of the world’s best seafood. Debra believes that if the government were serious about looking after the fishery, it would look at chemical drain off and all the other factors that could be a threat rather than ruthlessly imposing no go fishing zones. Although Ferguson Australia has consulted with the government extensively over marine parks and no go fishing zones, the lack of regard as to what impacts the move will have on the fishing industry and local economies has been frustrating.

Value Adding

Working in a family fishing business is not just a job; it is a way of life, according to Debra. She advises the politicians behind implementing the no go fishing zones to take a good long look at the effect it is going to have right down the chain. “When they make this decision and put these no go zones into place it will be locked in for ten years,” she explains. It will be very difficult to try to undo the effects of the move and it will spell disaster for hundreds of Australian family businesses who have been fishing for generations.

On a positive note, Ferguson Australia is proud to be unveiling a delicious new addition to its product range, gourmet Lobster Salt. There has been considerable demand for Ferguson to expand on its lobster range, and Lobster Salt, with its truly exquisite flavour, is an easy way to add a touch of class to any meal. Many high profile chefs are already showing great interest in the Lobster Salt which is due to be released early next year. Ferguson Australia recently presented the Lobster Salt at a lunch with Australian food and wine icon Lyndey Milan, to terrific feedback.

Ferguson Australia is proud to be supplying customers in Australia and around the world with premium quality seafood. Customers can rest assured they are buying the very best when they choose to shop with Ferguson Australia. The government certainly has not made the road ahead easy for Australian fishing companies, and the fishing industry is in need of consumer support now more than ever. Let us hope that Ferguson Australia continues carrying on a fine family tradition of sustainable fishing well into the future.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:37 AM AEDT