The largest wild caught tuna company in Australia, Walker Seafoods, has officially celebrated the $1.2 million expansion of its Mooloolaba-based operations during a ceremony with Mayor Mark Jamieson today (November 14).
It’s an achievement that would have seemed like a pipedream when CEO and owner Pavo Walker made the decision to quit his corporate Sydney job and simply “go fishing” in 2002.
While the early days were tough, when Pavo and his wife Heidi would collect disposed fishing line to reuse for their only boat, the future is now a lot brighter for the company which is the only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified tuna company in Australia and export to the US, Japan, and Switzerland.
Mayor Jamieson, who joined the Walkers for the official opening of the new purpose-built factory at Mooloolaba Spit, said the expansion was a great achievement for the business and would result in a boost to the local regional economy.
“Walker Seafoods have certainly achieved a lot in their 15-year history, and the opening of their new factory today will provide opportunities for the company’s future growth while providing additional employment opportunities for our region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The investment by Walker Seafoods is estimated to have contributed $3.25 million to the regional economy during construction, while providing an ongoing annual contribution of $15.64 million.
“The expansion will also see an increase in the number of employees, from 40 to 60 staff, as well as plans for an additional five employees to join their team in the near future.
“The move has also enabled the company to take full control of their exporting operations to a range of international markets and start investigating new product ranges including dried, smoked and frozen fish products.
“At the moment, Walker Seafoods have to ship their product to Brisbane to load on planes to send produce around the world.
“In a few years, they will be able to shortcut this process and save time and money by sending their produce direct from our expanded Sunshine Coast Airport.
“It’s wonderful to see a company such as Walker Seafoods continue to grow and provide local employment opportunities while representing the Sunshine Coast in the global marketplace and I would like to congratulate Pavo, Heidi and the whole Walker Seafoods team on their success.”
Mr Walker said the official opening was a wonderful achievement for the company and signified the start of the next chapter of its business.
“Mooloolaba has been a great location to base and grow our business over the years and we’re pleased to have been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities available to us, including becoming MSC certified,” Mr Walker said.
“MSC certification is one of the most recognisable labels in the world in regards to seafood, so becoming the only certified tuna company in Australia was an important step for our business to take advantage of exporting to the international market.
“Our location in Mooloolaba also supports our exporting activities as we’re able to grade, process and pack the fish quickly after the boat docks and have our fish air freighting throughout Australia and around the world that day.
“Typically we are air freighting around 40 tonne a week when the boats unload.
“We’re excited to be able to continue to grow and expand our business on the Sunshine Coast and we look forward to the future.”
Walker Seafoods has a fleet of five vessels that they use to fish the largest fishery in Australia – the Eastern Tuna Billfish Fishery (ETBF) – which represents 33% of the fishery located along the east coast.
For more information about Walker Seafoods, visit www.walkerseafoods.com.au.
- The fleet work around the cycle of the moon.
- Each vessel is out at sea for around two weeks at a time, and are unloaded twice a month.
- The fish are graded and packaged within 10 hours of unloading and shipments are sent to customers typically within 24 hours.
- Walker Seafoods also send 20ft containers of frozen shipments. In September 2017, 10 containers were shipped.
- As well as exporting, they also provide tuna to the domestic market including some of Australia’s most prestigious restaurants, Rockpool Bar and Grill and Tetsuya’s.