The fishing industry is one of feast or famine, as a few bad days on the water can mean bankruptcy for the men captaining the boats. Once the fish is caught and brought ashore, the hard work is really just getting started. The fish needs to be kept in temperatures as close to zero as possible so that the flesh maintains it’s delicious pink coloring. Refrigeration plays a role in the success of any good fishing operation, as a failure to keep those temperatures intact can mean the potential loss of tens of thousands of dollars. You can bet that the Walkers, as well as all the other top fisherman in the Sunshine Coast region, have a refrigeration mechanic on speed dial, just in case.
As far as the Australian market goes, the Walkers have been a major success story, taking a little over 15 years to go from a one boat set-up to one of the major players in the tuna fishing industry. While they may be successful, they are still not averse to the risks that the industry delivers, and every day that they sail out of the Mooloola River, Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, they know that their run of luck could come to an end.
The reason why he risks are so high for Walker Seafoods Australia is because of the amount of money that they have spent to change the way they do business. All told, the Walkers invested a whopping $350,000 in order to get the coveted Marine Stewardship Council certification that would prove that they were up holding the highest possible standards of sustainability in the industry. This would pretty much assure that their tuna and other catches would end up on the plates of high-end restaurants in Australia, not to mention in the huge Japanese market.
It can be a lot of work to catch these fish, with the hooked longlines baited with squid stretching out for miles. Laying those lines can take as much as 5 hours at a time, and there can be days when they yield very little. The good news here, though, is that even half-decent catch can mean big money in the pockets of the Walkers, but it’s a balancing act that can be tough to maintain since there are often days when the catch is not enough to bring total peace of mind.
The bonus that the Walkers now have on their side is that MSC certification, as it shows would be buyers that what they ae getting is locally sourced, sustainable fish that is of the highest quality possible. They also have the benefit if fishing in Mooloolaba waters that are stocked to teeming with wild tuna. These are the fish that demand the highest prices from discerning buyers, and the addition of the MSC certification label has the potential to drive those prices even higher, assuming the Walkers can continue reeling them in.