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Victoria's bounty of seafood

/ 29 Jan 2019
The oceans and waterways of Victoria are teeming with bountiful varietals of fresh Australian seafood. It’s nature’s pantry and it forms a significant portion of the average Australian diet - with around 25 kg of seafood consumed per person every year and growing.

Victoria's fishing spots stretch along Victoria's coast from the most western point of Portland east to the border at Mallacoota, and through inland waterways. Most seafood is caught within three nautical miles of shore.

From the water to the waiter, visitors can enjoy the fruits of the fisherman’s labour at restaurants from the fine dining to the fish and chippery on the beach.

ROCK LOBSTER

Southern Rock lobsters (Jasus edwardsii) are harvested all along the Victorian coastline.  Rock lobsters are marine crustaceans and prefer to live in sheltered caves, under rocks and in crevices from close inshore to depths greater than 200 metres.

Rock Lobsters are dark red in colour.  They feed mostly during the night on bottom living invertebrates including small crustaceans and molluscs.  Sharks and octopus prey on rock lobsters.

The Rock Lobster fishery is Victoria's most valuable professional fishery.

The main ports are Apollo Bay, Queenscliff, San Remo, Lakes Entrance through Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Port Campbell.

Diner’s wanting to try rock lobster can do so at the Lobster Cave in upmarket but quaint seaside village of Beaumaris or at riverside Atlantic Bar and Grill at Crown Melbourne.  ​The annual Kilcunda Rock Lobster Festival in Gippsland is a not to be missed event for lobster lovers each January. There's live music, lobster sales and lunches, and market stalls.

SCALLOPS

​Commercial scallop fishing occurs offshore with dredges, and through hand collection in Victoria's Port Phillip Bay and from the ports of Lakes Entrance and Welshpool.

Scallops are bivalve molluscs meaning they have two shells joined together. Larval scallops drift as plankton for up to six weeks before first settlement. They attach to a hard surface such as seaweed or mussel and oyster shells and remain attached until reaching around 6mm in length. The small scallops then detach themselves and settle into sediments.

Scallops can live to be ten years old but they are commonly caught scallops after two years of age after reproducing at least once.

Fishing for scallops is generally limited from July to December when the water temperatures are coolest. At this time of the year the scallop is in the best eating condition.

Delicious scallops can be found at Claypots Evening Star at South Melbourne Market, perfect on a balmy summer evening during the night market. 

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Mussels on the Bellarine Peninsula
Melbourne Editorial - Robert Seba

MUSSELS

Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. Blue mussels live in intertidal areas to a depth of 15 m, as well as estuaries, oceans and coastal waters. Blue mussels are edible bivalves commonly served in restaurants and sold at local fish shops.

Victoria's annual production of mussels is more than 1,000 tonnes, is worth over $3 million and is on the rise thanks to increasing exports to Asia and America.

Port Phillip and Western Port are the home of shellfish aquaculture in Victorian. The industry has been established for over 30 years and has a proven track record of growing premium quality seafood.

Port Phillip and Western Port are ideal locations for marine aquaculture because they have clean oceanic and bay water of the right temperatures to grow shellfish, and are close to markets, transport and research facilities at Queenscliff's successful shellfish hatchery.

Portarlington Mussels, on the Bellarine Peninsula, are said to be some of the best quality, tastiest mussels in the world and can be found in many of Victoria’s restaurants including two of its finest Rockpool Melbourne and Attica.

​The Portarlington Mussel festival is a firm summer fixture on the Bellarine. With 100 food and drink stalls, market stalls,  great local musicians playing across five stages, roving entertainers for the kids, plus art shows, cooking demonstrations and local beer and wine tastings, it is a great day out.

ALL THE FISH

Port Phillip Bay is one of Victoria’s oldest professional fisheries, with a history stretching back over 170 years. Port Phillip Bay fishers provide food-savvy Melbournians with the freshest of sustainably harvested fish, caught on their doorstep.

​Port Phillip Bay fishers catch iconic Victorian fish species including King George whiting, calamari, garfish, snapper, flathead and sardines, loved by the Victorian public.

Port Phillip Bay fishers catch a mix of species to sell, which has provided a great diversity of species for consumers.

King George whiting has always been a key target species for Port Phillip Bay fishers, and the Bay has historically provided the highest volume of King George whiting from Victorian fisheries. Southern calamari, snapper, flathead, garfish, yellow-eye mullet, gummy shark, and flounder all make up significant proportion of the catch. Anchovies and Sardines make up over 50% of the total catch in Port Phillip Bay. 

For a box of fish and chips, feet in the sand vibe, visitors should head to St Kilda’s Paper Fish. Or for the same quality produce but with a sense of occasion, a table at the Stokehouse offers a huge variety of sophisticated seafood dishes including the saltwater ceviche, snapper carpaccio, smoked eel toastie and more.

Regionally, Sardine Bar and Eatery in Paynesville is award-winning chef Mark Brigg’s seafood restaurant, overlooking the very water’s that the seafood is caught in. Menu items include whole Lakes Entrance sardines and anchovies.

EEL

Eel are harvested in Victorian coastal river basins south of the Great Dividing Range. Short-finned eels are found across the State, while long-finned eels are only found in eastern Victoria. Most rivers, creeks, lakes, dams and swamps on public land south of the Great Dividing Range are open to commercial eel fishing.  

Eels are recognised as relatively long-lived fish, maturing at 8 to 20+ years of age.

Shortfinned eels are the most abundant and the most keenly targeted eel species in Victoria. In addition to taking adult eels for sale. Eel flesh is soft and can taste quite sweet depending on the type of eel.

Melbourne is home to many amazing Japanese restaurants with some of the finest omakase menus in Australia. Omakase is a culinary experience led by the chef, the produce and the seasons. Eel is commonly found on these menus including at Minamishima - one of Australia’s finest, three-hatted Good Food Guide Award-winning restaurants.

ABALONE

Australia is renowned for producing high quality abalone, a mollusc (shellfish). It lives on rocky reefs from the shore out into the sea to depths of 30 metres. Abalone is collected by divers who use a chisel-like, iron bar to prise it from the rocks. The divers can stay under water for long periods by using hookah gear (they breathe air supplied to them through an air-hose connected to an air compressor on their support vessel), therefore commercial divers prefer using this, rather than SCUBA gear.

The Abalone Fishery is one of Victoria's most valuable commercial fishery. Almost all of the catch is exported to international markets, predominately in Asia. Abalone are caught along the majority of the Victorian coastline and the fishery is primarily based on targeting blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra). Greenlip abalone are also targeted (Haliotis laevegata).

Jade Tiger Abalone is nurtured in the pristine waters of the Great Southern Ocean, the rare and celebrated Jade Tiger Abalone has a stunning green shell and tiger stripe, and is fed by the cold, oxygenated and nutrient rich waters that sweep up from the Antarctic. Renowned for its sweet pearl-white flesh, Jade Tiger Abalone® is exclusive to CMG Australia.

With an unmistakeable flavour profile, unique appearance and renowned versatility, Jade Tiger provides an unmatched abalone dining experience and is available at Ides Melbourne, which also offers a curated range of other seafood dishes including rock oysters and marron.

Another high-end must-do dining experience for seafood lovers is Shannon Bennett’s Iki Jime, a seafood restaurant in the heart of the city centre which champions ethical and sustainable harvesting practices.

GIANT CRAB

The giant crab, Pseudocarcinus gigas, is a member of the family Xanthidae, a group that contains few commercially exploited species.  The species is only found in southern Australian waters between central New South Wales to southern Western Australia, including Tasmania.  Giant crabs inhabit the continental slope at approximately 200 metres depth and are most abundant along the narrow band of the shelf edge.  Knowledge of these areas is limited; only small areas are mapped and there is little information available on the ecological relationships between giant crabs and other species.

Giant crabs (Pseudocarcinus gigas) are fished commercially in western Victoria. The fishery is a small quota managed fishery that is closely linked with the Rock Lobster Fishery. The majority of vessels are used primarily for rock lobster fishing with giant crab taken as by-product. However, a small number of fishers target giant crabs and processors who specialise in exporting giant crab have developed technologies to store and transport live crabs to international markets.

Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in Smith Street Fitzroy is undoubtedly the best place to eat crab in Melbourne. The restaurant was founded in 2013 by chef Katie Marron. Katie's approach to food, flavour, and cooking is deeply inspired by her Maryland-based family roots, as well as her great aunt Lamar's southern US cookbook.

*This information has been sourced and can be credited to the Victorian Fisheries Authority.


This content can be shared and edited for the purpose of promoting Victoria as a visitor destination. Not for use in paid advertising. Please credit Visit Victoria.


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