1. How did you get started in your industry?
I’m proudly a third generation professional fisher. I started at 16 years old, in 1975, by following my father and mother Alf and Elspeth Davey, and Grandfather George Davey. I started in the Gulf of Carpentaria prawn fishery. Both Grandad and Dad had fished from Sydney, Wollongong, Kiama and Greenwell Point in Southern NSW on the Shoalhaven River. Two of our three children work with my wife Juanita and me on board the FV Wildcard as fourth generation professional fishermen.
2. Why do you do what you do?
There’s no prouder Australian job than providing premium quality Aussie-caught seafood for the community. Most Australians do not catch their own seafood and rely on our faithful fishing service.
3. What is your first seafood or fishing memory?
At five years old, going out fish trawling from Greenwell Point with my Mum, Dad and sister Debbie on Dad’s timber fishing trawler ALVEDA.
4. What does your average day look like?
My boat, FV Wildcard, is at sea for ten months every year, fishing for Spanish Mackerel from Queensland. We troll fish from 6 x 5 metre fibreglass Spanish Mackerel dorys (small, shallow-draft boats) up to 128 miles off the coast. The average trip is one month fishing then we meet the Sea Swift Mothership Kestrel Bay anywhere in the Gulf to unload frozen Mackerel, refuel and re-water, re-vitulate; food, stores, spares etc. all serviced from Cairns. All our Spanish Mackerel is sold in Cairns. Usually, a FV Wildcard fishing day starts at 4.30am each morning pulling packaged frozen fish from the -40°C snap freezers for storage in FV Wildcard’s 20 tonne main freezer. Anchors come up and we start fishing 30 minutes before day light and we continue all day, often well into the night.
5. What is your favourite part of the day?
Definitely getting up at 4.30am each day, listening to the Ocean, a quick coffee cuppa on the bow with the family and crew. Watching each beautiful morning sunrise with a million dollar water view, then commencing our fishing day.
6. What’s one thing people would not know about your day?
For the most part, most Australian’s don’t even know we are out here on the vast ocean in the extremely remote Gulf of Carpentaria Fishing hard for our Country and them to catch their seafood. They certainly wouldn’t know that four of FV Wildcards eight crew are amazing, hard working woman who also work incredibly long, hard hours each day, like most fishermen do. Interestingly, the four permanent ladies on board FV Wildcard are my 50 yo wife Juanita, my youngest 22 year old daughter Elspeth, my 22 year old daughter-in-law Prue, and my 22 year old niece Chrystal. A great example of “Equal Opportunity” in the fishing industry! Another interesting statistic is that the FV Wildcard travels 10,000 miles each Fishing season. Nearly halfway around the world.
7. What is your favourite seafood and why?
Definitely Spanish Mackerel. We all but eat fish every other day! Spanish Mackerel makes the best fish and chips. Crumbed, battered or fried. It is an extremely versatile fish and can be cooked in so many styles.
8. Where do you see the industry going in the future?
20 years ago we had well over 100,000 professional fishermen working around Australia. Today, only around 10,000 remain. Continuing fishing industry restructuring reform to ensure future Sustainability will continue to be a future challenge.
9. What’s a common misconception you encounter about seafood?
There are numerous mythical misconceptions about premium Australian seafood and the Australian professional fishing industry. Most believe nets catch too much by-catch and destroy the environment. A common misconception is that we fishers and our fishing practices are not sustainable. Most think we catch all the fish, and won’t be happy till we’ve caught the last one! Few fellow Australians understand the fishing industry is highly regulated and well managed. The past ten years has seen a growing disconnect, particularly between our increasing urban population of where their seafood comes from and who, how and where it’s caught. As an industry, we need to continue to better Promote our Good News Seafood Stories.
Two other common misconceptions are that frozen seafood is of a lower quality - It isn’t- and that all seafood imports are bad- they aren’t. Likewise with Aquaculture, it isn’t bad and it also plays a significant role in ensuring communities’ continued access to a variety of premium seafood.
10. What are the three main qualities people should look for in seafood they purchase?
First, supporting local and regional professional fishing communities and family businesses by buying local. Second, underutilised species like Nannygai, Leather jackets, Tailor and Mullet provide exceptional value when in season for the budget conscious seafood shopper. Your local seafood shop is always only too happy to fillet your fish for you on the spot. Third, for those who increasingly choose to eat with their “Environmental Conscience”, there is much internet information available today to make informed seafood choices, or simply ask your local professional fishermen or local seafood retailer who is always happy to assist.