The appeal of farming koura, or fresh water crayfish, are several. Here is a product that is regarded as high value, due to its association by name with lobster, or crayfish coming from the sea. The FAQ: What is the difference in taste? is a point of sale.
It is also a product that is valued throughout history by nationals that are our tourists, such as Sweden, China and the USA. They are prepared to pay a high price to sample our koura. This has brought us market awareness.
Koura have two unique cost saving benefits to the grower. First they are one aquaculture species that will reproduce in captivity. And secondly: because we sell them live, direct to a restaurant. There are neither the capital and compliance cost for an on site processing plant, nor is there a distribution cost for a third party.
I tell that to my fisherman shipmates, to expletives! They are paid $4.50 for a target species, but that retails for $33! And I don’t need quota; and I can sell what I produce!
Our location was previously based, under consultants, as a flow-through system in raceways. It was to be supplied by diverting creek water by gravity and supplemented – if required - with pumped well water.
We started investing in this, but realized that the concept was ahead of its time. Water quality was an issue. Upstream creek neighbours were externalizing their costs, by discharging “midnight sneakies” into the creek - in daylight! It has taken time for a collective approach to water. However now, 15 years on, we have it. Clean water 24/7.
However then, we switched to farming in ponds. We found and employed a successful WA marron farmer as a consultant - to develop static water ponds. By exclusively using ground water, we had secured water quality. The switch was a good thing for us. Fresh water aquaculture in ponds, is a developed industry in some countries. Therefore there is a significant and accessible, scientific knowledge base. There may not be many koura farmers establishing in dairy country, but we were not on our own.
On a recent farm tour, one of our visitors, with a masters in zoology, complimented me on my knowledge base for someone who did not have a science background. I am self taught by reading, asking and writing down checklists, so that mistakes are not made twice. I will be passing on all references.
We are also hosting, for NMIT, their aquaculture students for work experience. And where there has been a free exchange of our specific and their generic knowledge. Hence there is a sense of being kept informed with a tertiary knowledge base.