Our global vision

At Uarah Fisheries, we see aquaculture as the environmentally-sustainable and socially-ethical solution to the increasing food intake needed to support a rising global population. Aquaculture is necessary to alleviate the immense stress on wild fish populations and their natural habitats caused by commercial fishing and trawling. Compared to traditional agriculture, aquaculture requires less water, energy and land to produce food. A recirculating aquaculture system, especially, can be incredibly water-efficient – even its wastewater can be recycled for other agricultural needs, such as nutrient-rich fertiliser for crops.

Considering these environmental and social implications, aquaculture will continue to increase in importance both in Australia and abroad – indeed, it is predicted to contribute 62 per cent of world intake of fish and seafood produce by 2030. At Uarah Fisheries, we are extremely excited at this prospect and are wholly committed both to reviving Murray cod as a premium eating fish in Australia, as well as to spreading the aquaculture of Murray cod worldwide, to markets where this premium fish would be in demand and to countries where traditional forms of agriculture and aquaculture are less feasible.

To the global market, Australia is renowned for its abundance and quality of natural resources and clean produce. Murray cod is the iconic Australian freshwater fish, and was a critical component of the Australian diet for thousands of years until total ban on commercial fishing and severe restrictions placed on recreational fishing of Murray cod were introduced in the mid-20th century. The Murray cod has fantastic eating qualities, of both taste and texture, and has exceptional nutritional value, being especially high in omega-3 and other essential fatty acids.

Overall, we have been working with global producers since the 1980’s when we first began to supply Murray cod larvae and fingerlings abroad. This involvement gradually increased since the 2000’s to include additional services and consultancy. Today, with many of our current global partners, not only do we supply premium quality larvae and fingerlings, but also do we contribute technical and operational oversight, specialised equipment, infrastructure design and consultancy. For some overseas partners, we even send experienced technical staff from our own operations – some of whom are multilingual – to engage in expert training and supervision of local workers.

Since 2015, we have also been actively engaging with foreign partners in formal joint ventures to establish and manage global projects where we are introducing Murray cod as a serious aquaculture species and as a premium alternative to other locally-farmed fish. Our current global projects are located in southern China, and are anticipated to service the Chinese market beginning in 2018, with initial trials already reaching the market in late 2016. We are also looking to engage in further projects and joint venture partnerships in other regions of China and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific.

Eventually, we aim to expand the reach of Murray cod aquaculture globally, to the greater Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

Ozpure Agritech in Guangdong, China
Case study of a global joint venture project

This global project is our first formal joint venture in a foreign market. We established this project to demonstrate the feasibility of Murray cod aquaculture in a Chinese semi-urban environment. The main goal of this project is to demonstrate that recirculating aquaculture technology could be applied to Murray cod aquaculture in an urban, foreign environment using tested bore water and the same major fish husbandry principles that we employ at Uarah Fisheries.

This joint venture is undertaken in conjunction with local businesses, and has attracted a great deal of continuing positive interest from industry and government bodies at the local, provincial and even national levels. The location of the site is in the Jiujiang district of China’s Guangdong province – the largest hub of aquaculture production and logistics in the whole country.

The planning, site-selection, design and assembly of the production infrastructure were commenced in late 2015 and were completed by mid-2016, with the nursery being finished even earlier, by early 2016. Our initial shipments of Murray cod fingerling seed stock from our hatchery were delivered to the project in April 2016.

Strategic and financial oversight in this project is shared with the local stakeholders, who also coordinate most of the sales and marketing initiatives.

Technical direction and oversight is conducted by Uarah Fisheries. We have our own technicians acting as the designated project leader and accompanying supervisors overseeing the productions systems and personnel. Further consultancy is provided by our own Operations Manager, who visits the site multiple times a year to provide overall technical guidance.

The first market size fish were ready by late 2016, which we trialled in the restaurant and hotel sectors to a tremendous reception by the local consumers. We have since finalised the nursery infrastructure at the site, and supplied far higher numbers of Murray cod larvae for the 2016/17 season, with substantially higher volumes already being prepared for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons as well.
As a result of the successful trial of our initial harvest, we are now in discussion with several other parties at the national and provincial levels for expansion of this current project, and for additional projects in other major provinces.

Indeed, one large-scale national project arising from these discussions has already commenced as of early 2017, as outlined below.

Heshan rural project in Guangdong, China
Case study of a global joint venture project

In early 2017, our second global project arose directly out of the continuing success of our first foreign joint venture, Ozpure Agritech. Indeed, the local stakeholders of Ozpure Agritech are also directly involved in this project, together with a number of new investors.

The goal and scope of this project is vastly different to that for Ozpure Agritech, which began, first and foremost, as a proof of concept initiative. Instead, our project in Heshan is designed to be a full-scale facility complete with outdoor ponds in addition to indoor recirculating aquaculture systems. Furthermore, we will be pursuing a dual production line that also incorporates large-scale open pond cage culture to complement the recirculating aquaculture systems that will be installed. Indeed, we believe that the location has all the necessary qualities to eventually breed Murray cod larvae onsite.

This project is located in the Heshan region of China’s Guangdong province – which, like the district of Jiujiang, is another major hub for aquaculture in China that is of national significance. A tranquil, rural area of hills, forests and mountain streams, the Heshan region is renowned for its natural beauty and extensive history in freshwater aquaculture. Furthermore, the area is connected by highway and rail to the other major centres in the province.

Preparation, design and construction work on the site commenced in early 2017. Overall, the project is scheduled to be operational by early 2018, with the first harvest anticipated to be market-ready by late 2018 or early 2019. As with Ozpure Agritech, Uarah Fisheries will be responsible for technical direction, training and management, while the local stakeholders will conduct the sales and marketing aspect of operations.

In this project, we will also be exploring open pond cage culture as an alternative to recirculating aquaculture for Murray cod farming overseas. While there are additional infrastructure and practices that will need to be employed to treat the wastewater, open-pond cage culture requires less upfront costs and time to set up.

However, for this project specifically, not only were we able to secure high-quality surface water and sufficient land area, we also recognised that the local labour force was already considerably experienced in open pond cage culture – a unique resource to this region.

Whether open-pond cage culture or recirculating aquaculture is more suitable will also depend on considerations of climate, environmental sustainability, financial cost, and quality and availability of skilled labour, land and water resources. However, with the tools that modern aquaculture has at its disposal, we believe that Murray cod aquaculture can thrive and be financially successful almost anywhere – whether urban or rural, wet or dry, hot or cold.

Overall, we are highly-anticipating the completion of construction work and the formal commencement of operations in this project. To our knowledge, together with Ozpure Agritech, these two projects constitute the first major step by Australian farmers to showcase major-scale modern Murray cod farming, and Murray cod as a serious aquaculture species overseas.