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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Geraldton's Fishermen's Co-op Ltd, Western Australia

Some of the Abrolhos Islands

Waiting to be sold

Grading quality, colour and size

Geraldton has a magnificent jewel - The Abrolhos Islands - 122 islands that lie 60 kms west of Geraldton. They are clustered into three main groups - Wallabi, Easter and Pelsaert and spread from north to south across 100 kms of ocean. These waters are an important lobster breeding habitat with about 50% of WA lobster fisheries egg production coming from here.

In 1950 a small group of lobster fishermen banded together and built their own processing factory and the Geraldton Fishmen's Co-Operative Ltd was born.

The majority are sorted by quality, colour and size and frozen ready for export to Asia, Europe and USA.

Thirty percent are sold live to Japan, Taiwan and China and are kept in holding tanks until an order comes in. Live shipments are carefully packed in polystyrene cartons, kiln dried pine shavings are placed between the lobsters and special packing techniques are used to maintain the right temperature during transportation. These packing techniques ensure that “Brolos” brand lobsters reach their destination with a survival rate of better than 98%.

Over the years more and more fishermen have joined the co-op developing overseas markets and today it has an annual turnover of $180 million, making it the largest rock lobster processor in the world today.