Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture – The History
Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (GCMA), producers of Gold Coast Tiger Prawns, was founded in 1986 by Noel Herbst on a cane farm at the mouth of the Logan River. The Herbst family arrived in Australia in 1863 on the ship the Baucite from which Noel’s great grandparents disembarked to settle on the Gold Coast. There the family remained for the next 148 years as farmers with Noel continuing on the family profession working the land farming cattle and cane.
Noel, being a visionary, soon recognised the potential for aquaculture and, with the help of his late wife Elizabeth, started a small prawn farm, turning some of their cane paddocks adjacent to the Logan River into prawn ponds.
Over the following twenty-five years, Noel and his family learnt the hard way that prawn farming is not a simple process and certainly not risk free. By being hands on, persevering, innovating, employing the right people and reinvesting every dollar earned, what began as a small experiment for Noel and Elizabeth, has grown to what is today one of the biggest black tiger prawns farms and one of the most successful aquaculture companies in Australia.
Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture – Today
Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture today comprises of two production facilities totaling 80 hectares, two hatcheries, two processing plants, cold storage and administration offices. The company is still family owned and operated, with Noel as managing director, daughter Debbie as administration manager and son Darrell as farm manager. The ‘family’ focus extends very much to the team of staff at GCMA, many of whom are long-serving and have worked hard alongside the Herbst family to grow the business to where it is today.
As well as building a successful company, the Herbst family has made extraordinary contributions to the Australian aquaculture industry along the way. In 2010, GCMA made history by becoming the first black tiger prawn farm in the world to breed domesticated broodstock, replacing the need for wild caught specimens. They are now breeding from 15th generation stock and producing record pond results.
As industry leaders, the Herbst family have been instrumental in working to increase the viability of the Australian prawn farming industry. They are active in working with government bodies and industry associations such as the CSIRO, the FRDC and the Australian Prawn Farmers Association to drive innovation and technical know-how for continuous improvements to productivity and sustainability of the industry.
These significant contributions to the Australian Prawn Farming industry earned Noel an Order of Australia medal in 2014. In his typical no nonsense unassuming way, upon hearing of his award Noel was quick to praise others as well. “It’s a team effort, from myself and all of the staff and it really comes down to all the effort we put in”.
In their latest venture, GCMA purchased their second farm north of Cairns in 2012, where warmer weather enables them to start harvesting in November to cater to the busy Christmas period; this now gives them the advantage over other prawn farms in Australia of being able to supply fresh product from November right through to May.
Gold Coast Marine Award Winning Tiger Prawns
It total, GCMA harvests 1,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns each year. Pair this with 22 gold medals at the Royal Easter Show, 7 Grand Champion ribbons and 2 President’s Medal nominations and it’s no surprise that these sweet, firm, and strikingly beautiful prawns are a favourite on Australian tables. Prawn lovers across the country owe much thanks to the Herbst family.