Australia’s scallop fishing industry: embracing sustainable seafood
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Clayton Nelson of Rottnest Island Scallops really wants to be a responsible fisherman. His fleet of a single trawler catches scallops eight weeks a year, up – and that’s if he decides to go out: a collapse in the scallop population prevented him from landing a single catch between 2012 and 2016.
During the season, he only fishes four days a week and does not go out on weekends, holidays, or any other occasion that might attract amateur anglers to the water. Last year, the 16 tonnes of scallop he landed was, according to Nelson, a fraction of what the fishery was able to provide.
However, what is perhaps most telling: Nelson is the only fisherman to commercially fish for scallops from Rottnest Island after purchasing all fishing licenses from the South West Trawl Managed Fishery, the area in which he operates. It was a decision based not on greed, but on the future.
“It was a big investment,” says Nelson, who started Rottnest Island Scallops in 2010. “But the idea of having a shop, a seasonal fishery on the doorstep of Western Australia’s capital that produces a beautiful product: I don’t think there is a value in it. “
“The idea of having a shop, a seasonal fishery on the doorstep of the capital of Western Australia that produces a beautiful product: I don’t think there is value in that.
Just as important as Nelson’s conscience is the winged trawl net he uses. Made of lightweight Kevlar, the net floats above the seabed and trails a lightweight stainless steel chain that travels across the ocean floor, causing the scallops to burst out of the sand and into the net.
“If you come back [to the fishing area] the next day you can’t see you’ve been there, ”Nelson says.
Nets offer a softer alternative to the metal dredges typically used by scallop fishermen. Attached to trawlers and dragged across the ocean floor, these dredges use sharp “ teeth ” to penetrate the substrate and dig up scallops, as well as the seabed. What remains is not always beautiful, but since the advent of the commercial scallop fishery in Tasmania (1910s) and Victoria (1970s), dredging has been the industry’s preferred method.
Fortunately, more and more scallop fishermen are using low impact alternative fishing methods. South Australian Paul Pollaco, for example, dives by hand for King Scallops from Kangaroo Island, instantly recognizable by their electric purple eggs, while others are in the process of switching from dredges to net-based systems. . Some are making the change for the sake of the environment. Others see it as a business decision.
John Susman, seafood consultant, says, “When you pick up a scallop, it tends to drown because it’s dragged along by mud and stuff. [is on the ocean floor] and they can drown pretty quickly. “(Fun fact: Susman got his start in the Australian fishing industry in 1984 as a 20-year-old hand diver for scallops at Coffin Bay and sold them to Sydney chefs such as Neil Perry, Stefano Manfredi and the late Tony Bilson.)
“If the animal is swimming and moving it is in a much better condition and there is a much higher probability that you will land the live fish, which gives you so many more options in terms of care. . “
CHOICE OF SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD
In Australia, three main species of scallop are the subject of commercial fishing: the Tasmanian scallop, the scallop and the scallop. According to the most recent data from the Australian Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, in 2017-18, Australian fishermen landed 7,732 tonnes of scallops worth $ 25 million.
While it is possible to purchase whole scallops alive during the different scallop seasons in Australia, scallops are typically sold frozen, shelled, or left on the shell half. While one might hear the occasional murmur over scallops soaked in water to increase weight or ‘scallop’ that has been cut from other white-fleshed seafood, the Australian scallop these days is a story of. quality rather than quantity.
Susman explains, “Many scallop fishermen have identified that the historical game of simply trying to have the lowest cost of production and using all fair and disgusting means is in fact not competitive with imported products. so why not go to the other extreme and try to produce the highest quality that you can and get the most money for them? “
COOK SCALLOP WITH ADAM LIAW
While classically trained French chefs like to pair scallops – coquille St Jacques en Gaulois – with cream sauces, modern cooks tend to strip down when serving scallops, to make the most of its mild flavor. and oceanic. In his Rockpool Bar & Grill cookbook, Neil Perry writes, “Fresh scallops need nothing more than a pinch of fresh lemon, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt. sea and a grind of pepper, then straight into the hatch. “
ANOTHER MEDIUM SCALLOP RECIPE
While on a camping trip, Aaron Turner of Igni Restaurant in Geelong, Victoria, discovered scallop eggs, chopped and mixed with oil and salt, a great condiment for whole fire-roasted scallops. Veteran Japanese chef Toshi Oe of Sydney’s Sushi Oe, meanwhile, would have a scallop from Western Australia or Queensland on anything from Hokkaido.
Oe says, “The Australian scallops I received have softness, texture and a real scallop taste. They have firmness unlike Hokkaido scallops, which can be a bit sweet.”
In addition to a nigiri-style sushi seasoned with a dab of wasabi and soy sauce, Oe also serves a aburi– style preparation where he burns the scallop after briefly marinating it Nikiri, Oe’s own unique combination of soy sauce, kelp and mirin.
Photograph by Max Veenhuyzen.
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THE KITCHEN WITH ADAM LIAW