Yumbah Aquaculture: Farming a pricey seafood treat bags export award

First published on The Weekly Times online on 26 January 2018. Click here to read the full article.


THE largest abalone producer in the Southern Hemisphere, which has an onshore farm at Bicheno, has taken home a national agribusiness award.

Yumbah Aquaculture, a company with a turnover of $25 million, won its first national gong at the 2017 Australian Export Awards.

Yumbah Bicheno grows 70 tonnes of abalone a year and with 12 full-time staff it is the biggest employer in the East Coast town.

The farm is planning to increased annual production to 100 tonnes.

Yumbah Aquaculture also has onshore abalone farms in Victoria and South Australia. More than 80 per cent of the 700 tonnes of abalone grown at Yumbah’s four farms is exported to South-East Asia, the United States and Europe. Abalone from Bicheno is also sold into Tasmanian markets.

Yumbah Aquaculture executive team, member Tim Rudge said the Bicheno farm iwas on the ocean’s edge.

“The farms depend on clean, cool water. The connection to the ocean is the lifeblood of the farm,” Mr Rudge said.

“Bicheno is an outstanding site, we love the product the farm grows.

“Although one of our smaller farms it has enormous potential to grow.”

The Bicheno farm, established in 1984, was one of the earliest abalone farms set up in Australia.

Yumbah bought the site in 2010.

“At Bicheno we breed our own stock and grow abalones endemic to the area,” Mr Rudge.

Water is pumped from the ocean to farm tanks and the used water with any effluent is sent to a treatment plant where it is monitored before being sent back to the ocean.

“It’s sustainable farming and our treatment of used water sets us apart from other farm seafood operations.

“Abalone farming has a bright future and we have growth plans across the company,” Mr Rudge said.

Abalone a highly prized delicacy, particularly in Asia, where it has been enjoyed using for thousands of years.

Through a joint venture with Cameron of Tasmania, Yumbah also produces premium oyster spat from its Port Lincoln site in South Australia.

Yumbah has permission from traditional custodians of the Aboriginal Yaygirr language for its name, which means “larger shellfish”.