Wednesday of this week was a simply glorious Adelaide day for a fresh seafood lunch on the banks of the Torrens in the city. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze blew through the marquee that had been set up on the cool, green lawns and Neil Perry, of Rockpool, was cooking my lunch – just another day in the life of a food blogger really. Actually, this was a remarkably special day for South Australian seafood producers in general, and Spencer Gulf prawn fishermen specifically as it marked the recognition of Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fisherman’s Association (SGWCPFA) as the first prawn fishery in both the Asia Pacific and the world to gain certification for sustainability from the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is a global program which assesses wild capture fisheries only and sets standards for sustainably managed fish stocks, minimal environmental impact and effective fishery management.
This is an utterly outstanding achievement for our prawn fishermen and a significant credit to the entire Eyre Peninsula fishing community whose diligent stewardship of their region cannot be underestimated. The awarding of this certification by the MSC recognizes the sustainability of the management practices that have been developed and worked at on the Eyre Peninsula, making it a world leader in prawn fishing strategies and conduct. I was able to take the chance for a chat with one of the fishermen present at the lunch, whose justified pride and commitment was worn well and truly on his sleeve.
Andrew Hogg is no stranger to the sea, having been a Rock Lobster fisherman working out of Robe in South Australia’s South East for 20 years. Thirteen years ago he and his family moved up to Adelaide and he now lives just north of the city, a convenient drive from his boat and fishing base in Wallaroo on the western side of the Yorke Peninsula. He believes that Australia has some of the best managed fisheries in the world and spoke to me about the system of stock assessments which are carried out before the prawn fishing season commences in November and again just before February. The assessments are always carried out on the dark of the moon (the phase of the moon when it is directly between the sun and the earth) as prawns are light-sensitive (who knew?) and are conducted by a partnership of nominated fishermen and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) inspectors.
Depending upon the results of the November assessment, Andrew will go out for about five nights in November and for another 3-4 days in December. He will only fish on those days until he reaches his bag limit or until the catch drops below 300kg per night – at which point he stops. Stock assessments begin again in February and fishing commences for one week in March, and four days in April and May and another three to six days in June. The prawns are caught in nets which are dragged along the seabed and then emptied into hoppers on deck. The hoppers have a system of gridwork which strains the prawns through to the bottom, leaving the larger fauna to be tipped straight back into the sea alive. The management of the Spencer Gulf fishery is now so finely tuned that, in 2010, Andrew fished for 47 nights for a catch of 1,950 tonnes – once upon a time it would have taken him 250 nights out in the boat for that same catch.
As I previously mentioned, lunch was caught (from the tank) and prepared for us all by Neil Perry. The weather is shaping up well here for the weekend so if you want to give some sustainable local prawns the Neil Perry treatment why not try this recipe of his!
Charcoal Grilled King Prawns
- 12 large green Spencer Gulf King Prawns
- handful sage
- handful oregano
- handful coriander
- 1 small knob ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 dried long red chillies
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Chiffonnade of parsley, to serve
- Split the Spencer Gulf King Prawns in half and remove the intestinal tract—set aside in refrigerator until ready to marinate.
- Finely chop all the herbs, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon zest and mix together with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Smear the marinade on the cut side of the Spencer Gulf King Prawns and place on a baking tray, marinade side up.
- At this point, you can either cook them in a pre-heated 250C oven for about 5 minutes or on a preheated barbeque or charcoal kettle barbeque—cook by pressing the Spencer Gulf King Prawns down to caramelise the flesh.
- Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve with a lemon wedge, extra virgin olive oil and parsley
Printable recipe Charcoal Grilled King Prawns
That’s really interesting. I didn’t know all that about the prawn industry. Incredible how efficient it has become – and sustainable!
Melanie @ Melanie Cooks
I love grilled prawns! Yours look so flavorful!
I love learning the stories behind the food industry. It’s just amazing that the catch is 5x more efficient now! Lucky you to have such a scrummy lunch cooked by an amazing chef, yummo!
Charlie – The MSC accreditation is really a huge accolade for the fishery.
Melanie – those aren’t my work, but Neil Perry’s!
Bec – it’s a tough life! 😉
Please do come the raw prawn with me if they can be grilled and look like the above pic – yum !!
Mandy - The Complete Cook Book
I lve all of the herbs used with he prawn. Another lovely and educational day out for you.
Interesting. If they catch the years catch in only 47 days are the prawns sold frozen?
Barb – I believe that all the prawns are snap frozen on board the boats, but I’ll double check that and get back to you.
Sustainable prawn farming is a great initiative – and how fab that Neil Perry cooked your lunch! 47 nights v 250 is also a good practical reason to catch prawns this way.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
hehe yes if only that was every day where you get lunch cooked by Neil Perry! Now wouldn’t that be great 🙂
It’s always so interesting to learn about the behind the scenes stories in the food industry. Thanks for sharing! Sounds like an amazing lunch. It’s not everyday Neil Perry cooks prawns for you 😀
Wow! What a great achievement for them, that’s very exciting news to have sustainable prawns grown locally!
The Food Sage
Fortunately they have found their way to Sydney. http://www.fishandco.com.au/our-menu/from-the-cafe/
See main course, dish number three.
Haven’t tried them, but can’t wait!