WHO Robert Ferguson started his Southern Rock Lobster fishing business in 1969 and it has since grown and diversified into a third-generation fishing company. Circa 2017, Ferguson Australia now places an emphasis on sustainable fishing practices across many species, and in August the company achieved international Friend of the Sea certification for six of its wild-caught local fish species.
HOW Ferguson Australia sources stock from about 100 small South Australian fishing families working the Southern Ocean, from Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island to the Limestone Coast. Speed of processing is this company's point of difference. "All our fish are filleted on the day they're caught, immediately vacuum sealed and frozen," says export and marketing manager Eliza Ferguson. Currently, Ferguson's frozen retail range consists of wild-caught garfish, Bight redfish, King George whiting, gummy shark, ocean jacket cheeks and flathead. The company has also introduced cooked southern rock lobster and lobster oil.
WHY Alarmed by the quality of some of the fish fillets being sold in supermarkets, Ferguson upped the ante with more thoughtful preparation processes and packaging. "We took them out of plastic bags and sealed them in cryovac," says Ferguson. This ensures that each product has a shelf-life of four days in a refrigerator after being thawed. Slight-bodied fish such as whiting and garfish retain their delicate texture and flavour, staying firm throughout cooking, but the big surprise is the flake, which is notably plump and juicy. Each packet has a window in the cardboard sleeve so that buyers can see the fish. "We want a customer to be able to identify the different Australian fish species by sight," says Ferguson.
Ferguson Australia's frozen fish range, from $12.20 for 200gm, (08) 8414 8088, fergusonaustralia.com