Josh Niland’s newest eatery Charcoal Fish launches in Sydney this week, featuring Aquna Murray Cod.
At Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod, a commitment to sustainability is embedded in our corporate identity, business practices and culture. We want to have a positive impact on people’s plates and the planet. Our business tagline, Life tastes better our way, was crafted to capture what we stand for, which includes finding a better way to deliver food security through sustainable aquaculture.
Here is our sustainability story, so far.
In our hatchery, breeding fish for our aquaculture program is now sourced from our own farm-raised stock. This means we’re self-sufficient – no fish is taken from the wild.
Our contribution to fish restocking programs in the region is significant. We return broodfish to the wild, which goes above and beyond our requirements as permit holders.
Currently, we’re participating in a state government restocking program. We breed and raise the Murray cod fingerlings in our hatchery, which are released into the Murray-Darling Basin. More than one million of our fingerlings have been released into the river system.
We only use organic fertilisers to produce plankton to raise our juvenile fish.
Our nursery is becoming more energy efficient with new technology, from generating ongoing savings on electricity usage for aeration to reducing our reliance on power from the grid through continual investment in solar panels.
In 2018 we installed solar panels for renewable energy production at our Bilbul nursery, where our fish are kept in recirculated tanks until they are approximately 100g or 120mm long. Approximately 50 per cent of total nursery energy is currently provided by solar power.
Our team are constantly working on better feeding strategies and have embarked on developing diets that are better suited to maximising growth at the same time as ensuring fish welfare by using a diet designed to better manage disease control and water quality for our fish.
Ponds (grow out farms)
Our land-based production model uses the same irrigation water twice – once through our fish ponds, then for crop irrigation or pastures on farms. As far as we’re aware, we’re the only pond-based aquaculture business in the world using a 100 per cent water recycling system. The nutrients in this recycled water offer a saving on the use of other fertilisers.
Through closer monitoring of our ponds, we have reduced our water use by 50 per cent in the last 12-months.
Our feeding strategy is producing a Feeding Conversion Ratio (FCR) of 1:2:1. This is an exceptional result and means we grow efficient fish, which use the least amount of protein (feed) to produce the most amount of protein.
Our local processing plant where we produce two products – Hot Smoked Aquna Murray Cod and Aquna fillets, aims to produce zero-waste. This is achieved through a partnership with a local organic recycler, who recycles and reuses all fish waste created at the facility.
We are constantly trying to package our product into the most environmentally responsible solution through using bulk freight and where possible, recyclable and returnable containers. We are currently talking to suppliers about using insulated cardboard based alternatives instead of traditional seafood shipping methods.
The Aquna team represents an almost even gender balance of talented men and women. While the agriculture industry is slowly embracing the participation of women in leadership and decision-making roles, we’re proactively recruiting women across the business.
There is no gender gap at Aquna, which sets the foundation for an inclusive workplace.
Our sustainable vision extends to the communities that we operate in. With reports of more than one million fish deaths along a 40-kilometre stretch of the Darling River in early 2019, Aquna joined forces with the community to prevent further fish kills. We donated aerators that were installed on separate properties to force oxygen into the sick river and assist with preventing further fish deaths.
As part of our annual restocking program, Aquna supports several angling groups to assist them with restocking the area.