Josh Niland’s newest eatery Charcoal Fish launches in Sydney this week, featuring Aquna Murray Cod.
Murray cod is often referred to as the icon of the Murray-Darling Basin — big, lazy and opportunistic, with a certain aura. Its small eyes and a short snout gives Murray cod a distinct concave profile.
In Aboriginal mythology, a huge Murray cod is responsible for forming the Murray River and all its fishes. Explorers and early settlers were astounded by the abundance, size and delicacy of Murray cod.
Once plentiful in the Murray-Darling system, overfishing and environmental changes means there’s been no commercial fishing of the species since 2001. Now, thanks to aquaculture, Murray cod is back on the menu.
So, here’s the story of remaking Australia’s largest freshwater fish — and why its muddy flavour is a thing of the past.
Production of Murray cod for human consumption is still a relatively new industry, with fish first entering the market in the early 1990s.
More than five years ago, a collective of pioneering Riverina-based irrigators identified the species to be an excellent prospect for land-based aquaculture, using the fish’s native water from the Murray-Darling Basin.
Murray cod don’t grow in any other river system in the world.
Branded as Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod, we’re continuing to perfect pond management and animal husbandry techniques to provide a sustainably-farmed, table-ready fish product for chefs and consumers who haven’t had access to Murray cod before.
For Australian consumers, who’ve grown up thinking Murray cod is inaccessible, it’s a nice surprise to know it’s made a comeback! While consumers in the USA, UK and East Asia can now get a taste for one of our most famous species, packed with Australian-ess.
While it’s amazing to have access to Murray Cod like never before, the remaking of the species for future generations relies on restocking its native river system. Still listed as a vulnerable species, it’s our goal to get it off this list with the help of The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) and The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA).
In the latest figures, for every farmed Murray cod harvested from our production ponds, for consumption, the Murray-Darling Basin is being restocked with 15 MCA fingerlings. Across our two hatcheries, more than 23 million fingerlings have been released into the river system, to date. Remaking the species involves a different approach to the past.
If there’s one thing wild Murray cod, and other freshwater fish, have been criticised for, it’s having a muddy or earthy flavour. It means the fish tastes of the water in which it lives. It is not actually mud, rather a compound called geosmin (PDF). While it’s not harmful, we’re sensitive to it.
In the remaking of Australia’s most iconic freshwater fish, we’ve created a product without the muddy flavour because our Murray cod are grown off the pond floor. Instead, Aquna Murray Cod has a clean, creamy flavour.
Plus, it’s easy to cook using different cooking methods.
If you normally reach for a different fish species, we’d love you to try our Aquna Murray Cod. You’ll find our luxury fish product in the take-home seafood section at selected Woolworths stores in New South Wales, Australia. You can also buy at these retail outlets throughout Australia.
Alternatively, please contact our sales team for all other enquiries.