Blue Harvest

Behind the scenes with Tropical Finfish

In 1999 Dr. Richard Knuckey joined an ambitious project to diversify aquaculture and protect the coral reefs. The unique proposal found favour within the Queensland Government who awarded funding and launched the tropical finfish project. Over the next 15 years the team would go on to achieve their goal of pioneering innovative aquaculture techniques and create a world-class tropical finfish hatchery. Continued below…

In 2013 Tropical Finfish stepped out on its own as a private operation and is now the only breeder of Giant Grouper in Australia and one of only a handful in the world. With exclusive approval to collect a very small number of immature wild broodstock, Tropical Finfish holds Australia’s first and only aquaculture permit allowing commercial captive breeding and grow-out production of market-size Giant Grouper. In addition, Tropical Finfish raises three other species in the Grouper family: Gold Spot, Tiger and Coral Trout.

Tropical Finfish is run by a highly experienced team of 22 staff including CEO Alan Wigan, a chartered accountant with 25 years experience in mining and professional services sectors, General Manager Dr. Richard Knuckey who has 28 years experience in the aquaculture industry and Operations Manager Rhys Mitchell who has over 16 years of aquaculture production experience.

The company has an annual production capacity of 1 million fingerlings which, when grown out successfully, can produce 350T of plate sized fish. The fingerlings are grown out in saltwater in earthen ponds at the companies’ 17-hectare production and processing facility north of Cairns.  Tropical Finfish also sell their fingerlings to other fish growers in the north to mature their stock to market size. Queensland Giant Grouper is highly sought-after in the Australian market, and as a protected species it can only be sourced through Tropical Finfish or associated aquaculture farms.

The Tropical Finfish breeding facility in Cairns is state of the art and the controlled environment contains unique systems and processes that allow the adult broodstock fish to spawn monthly. With ongoing research and development enhancing survival rates, Tropical Finfish are now looking at expanding their breeding capacity to 2.5 million fingerlings per annum which would give them the capacity to grow over 1000T of marketable fish.

Prized by restaurants in Australia and Asia for their incredible eating qualities, wild Grouper populations have been under fishing pressure for many years. However due to advances by innovative aquaculture companies such as Tropical Finfish, a new generation of seafood lovers will now be able to enjoy these beautiful fish, guilt free, knowing that they have been sustainably farmed.