Sustainable Seafood

March 4th, 2011 tanner


This week heralds the opening of the prawn season and fishers will be at sea for the next three weeks before bringing back the first bounty of prawns of the season.  These fabulous morsels are the culinary icons of our region and to consume or serve an imported alternative should be deemed as sacrilege.

Strangely enough there is a assumption that our fishing industry does not care about over fishing and the extinction of a seafood, but that if far from the truth.  With the exception of a minute number of rogue fishers, the Queensland seafood industry as a whole care very much for the ‘hand that feeds them’ and have self monitored and governed their fishing areas for many years and in 2001 a local group formed Eco-fish to formalise their activities.  The Australian fishing industry is possibly the most regulated of its kind in the world and thus we have seasons, quotas and environmental regulations for each fishing sector.  Hence the prawn season!

A publication of the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s (AMCS) Sustainable Seafood Guide recently caught my attention with over 100 species relegated to the categories of Better Choice, Think Twice, or Say No.  I was surprised to see such a large number of seafood condemned to the Think Twice, or Say No category, so my scepticism led me to investigate. 

Fortunately I didn’t have to look very far to find Nick Ruello who lives in Cairns and is a former fisheries scientist, Sydney fish merchant and consultant.  For the past 45 years he has worked with many Australian businesses and national and international R & D projects on fisheries management and seafood processing, marketing, and quality assurance. He is a Slow Food member and acts as a seafood advisor on the Ark of Taste program. He is a founding member of the Australian Society for Fish Biology and a board member on two seafood industry organizations. He has an MSc degree from Sydney University and lesser qualifications in various fields.  

Mentioning this publication touched a raw nerve with Nick.   As he explains “Quite a few of their assessments are poorly founded and many of the Think Twice recommendations are so vague and general they are of little use”  Nick gives the example “All trawl caught prawns are relegated to the Think Twice category although Australian trawlers are world leaders in sustainable harvesting, by-catch reduction and minimising environmental impacts and the major fisheries pass the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act assessment”.

Nick contrasts the AMCS approach with the considered, constructive efforts being made by the Australian Conservation Foundation in collaboration with government fisheries managers, the University of Technology Sydney and the seafood industry to guide consumers to more sustainable seafood choices

It is concerning when a ‘guide’ can be published with misleading information that can impact on an industry and on what we feel comfortable with at our dinner table.   Here is the full report of Nick’s findings   amcs-observns-26feb  


So in three week, grab a kilo of fresh prawns and ‘enjoy’.

Organics Feasibility Report

November 29th, 2010 tanner

Researching the Potential to Develop an Organics Farming Concept on the Southern Tablelands

This report was prepared by Bob Cobavie of Outsource Management P/L  in conjunction with Advance Cairns and supported by DEEDI.

To view the report click on the following:









A Future for our Agri-Food Industry

November 24th, 2010 tanner


Imaging in 10 years time where our agri-food industry will be?  With our rich soils, plenty of sun and an abundance of rainfall, will it be the nation’s food bowl?  Will we have a food manufacturing industry to support the diverse range of food products available?   Will our regional food brand Taste Paradise be as renowned as Food Barossa?   …and will our region be internationally recognised as a food tourism destination similar to Provence, Tuscany or San Sebastian?  It is said that nothing significant happens that isn’t planned!

Two week’s ago I attended an Agri-food tourism field day and Food Industry forum held in the Cassowary and Tablelands areas.  These four well attended workshops proved that farmers are interested in the future of the industry. 

The field day looked at opportunities to diversify their farming product in a number of ways that included linkages into tourism.  Whether it’s selling food at local farmers markets, processing their product, finding a supply chain to local retail & food services, or opening their property for visitation, these farmers were positively encouraged to take the next step; a series of workshops of mentoring their way through a maze of related business development skills. 

The forums were about bringing the industry together; development of a local food supply chain that brings regional produce into the Cairns area, to retailers and restaurants, and developing an accreditation framework that links to the new regional food brand; Taste Paradise.  The sessions lead by Rose Wright from the Southern Cross University provided a great discussion.  This lady knows her stuff when working along the supply chain from farmers to the consumer but she also works on a political level of compliance support and regulatory reform to address the impediments placed on agribusiness entrepreneurs.    At the end of the forum it was exciting to see a very positive response from farmers, and it goes without saying the more who embrace this framework, the better chance of success. 

Rose is finalising a Regional Food Strategy 2010-2020 in consultation with industry and will facilitate the elements in the region over the next six months.

If you are looking for new opportunities,  are interested in diversifying your primary product or venturing into Agri-Food Tourism, contact Nola Craig at

Have an opinion on Local Food

November 24th, 2010 tanner


You can assist in a survey for the development of a Regional Food System that will support the production, distribution and sale of local food for local consumption.  The outcomes of the survey will help support our local farmers, provide healthy, fresh, seasonal, regional food to our local community and create authentic local tourism experiences that will have visitors raving about the amazing food offering experienced in Tropical North Queensland. 

There are four different surveys for; Local residents, Local food producers, Tourism and Hospitality businesses, and Visitors. 

Click here for the Advance Cairns  Tropical North Queensland Food Supply Surveys  and you could win $250 worth of premium seafood from Cairns Ocean Products

Joel Salatin – RegenAG Public Talk

November 24th, 2010 tanner


Off the Eaten Track

November 18th, 2010 tanner


What do you get when you mix Queensland’s finest regional produce, a splash of wine, some passionate producers and one very excitable chef in a television series? 
The result is Off the Eaten Track – a collaboration between the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) and Tourism Queensland, to air on Saturday 4 December at 7pm on Channel 7. in the lead up to Christmas.Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin said the series was a celebration of the people who grow, catch and make Queensland produce.

From iconic Queensland mud crabs and mangoes to the more exotic avocado ice-cream and Australian Desert Limes, Off the Eaten Track will tantalize your taste buds.

Celebrate a feast of Atherton Tableland coffee, Chinchilla’s Murray cod, Rockhampton’s beef, Hervey Bay’s scallops, Ayr’s exotic achachas and buffalo mozzarella from Cairns.

“While Off the Eaten Track showcases how regional produce can be prepared, it is not just about cooking or travel – it is a revealing and entertaining exposé of the high-quality produce that comes from our state,” he said.

“Queensland has an increasing reputation both domestically and internationally for high quality fresh produce and wine and this series will help build it further.

for more information… here

Check out  for a preview

Building your online business

November 15th, 2010 tanner

The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation invites you to take part in a comprehensive activity-based workshop series where you will learn how to increase business profitability using website technology.

What about online: beginner’s basics
Wednesday 24 November 2010
Presented by Robert Rutten of Rutten Technologies

This session will demystify the myths and clarify the terms generally used in relation to online businesses. From differentiating between business and domain names, email and web hosting, to the dos and don’ts of being online, this session will help you choose the right tool for the job.

Making online business work
Thursday 25 November 2010
Presented by Emmy Kerrigan of Atlas Projects

session will work through identifying a clear, comprehensive, strategic implementation plan. By identifying your key business needs to succeed and incorporating them with your online strategy, you are better prepared for a more effective online presence. Understand how having an online strategy can create an active marketing channel for your business and how this can help to achieve your business goal.

Social media for business
Wednesday 1 December 2010
Presented by Nicky Jurd of Precedence

This session will examine the various social media tools available and how you can best use these tools to market your business. Examine reputation management and how to avoid the mistakes businesses often make while marketing in the social arena. Explore Twitter, Facebook, blogs and review websites such as TripAdvisor.

Where to from here
Thursday 2 December 2010

This session will review the content covered in the previous three workshops. Attendees will be provided with a workbook to help prepare for the further advance with their online business. This session will have all three presenters available to address any questions.

Time                   5.30pm – 8.30pm on the dates specified
Venue                Cairns Centre
                                Ground floor, Corner Grafton and Hartley Street, Cairns 
Cost                     $33.00 (incl GST*)
Register            To register please complete the registration form and return to the Cairns Centre at the details below. Contact             Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
                                PO Box 2358 CAIRNS QLD 4870
Telephone:     07 4048 1111    Facsimile: 07 4048 1122

Do you have a BIG Idea?

November 14th, 2010 tanner


Do you have a great idea that could change everything, but need help to get it off the ground?

Here is your chance to make it happen. We’re looking for innovative ideas that could change the way your business works and have the potential to transform the industry you work in.  We’re offering up to $50,000 per project, so put your application in today!



Go to  for more information

Applications close 10th December 2010

Tropical Cuisine Book Launch

November 10th, 2010 tanner


Taste of the Tablelands

October 14th, 2010 tanner

Sunday 17th October, 2010
10am – 4pm


Image contributed by DEEDI

One of the best food festivals of the region is the “Tastes of the Tablelands” and it’s on again this Sunday (17th October) from 10am – 4pm.  This Festival won an Australia Day Award for the best community Event in the Tableland region in 2008, an award the Rotary Club of Atherton is very proud of.  Last year 4,000 people attended the festival and this year the numbers are expected to increase significantly.

This great community event is held in the serene grounds of the Chinese Temple on Herberton Road, Atherton, and will once again be a showcase of the very best that the Tablelands has to offer. The day will be filled with cooking demonstrations, music, entertainment, a fashion parade, a vintage car & motorbike display, ice carving displays and children’s activities.  The Chinese Temple Museum and the Art Gallery will also be open.  All funds raised on the day will go towards community projects organized by the Rotary Club of Atherton.

Image contributed by DEEDI

Images contributed by DEEDI

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