The Laurieton Fishermen’s Co-op has experienced an increase in fresh produce and shareholders since the closure of its Hastings counterpart.
The Hastings River Fisherman’s Co-operative closed in May last year with negotiations ongoing between the Department of Industry – lands and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for the site’s revitalisation.
Manager at the Laurieton co-op Gillian Beakey said while she lamented the closure of the Hastings fish co-op, there had been a silver lining for her business.
“I think it is a shame the Hastings co-op is gone. It provided a real atmosphere around the boardwalk area,” she said.
“But the closure has been good for us. While it hasn’t been a full financial year yet, we are averaging about an extra $2000 in fresh produce a week coming through our doors.
“Of the six fishos that supplied Hastings Co-op, four are supplying Laurieton Co-op, two have sold their license and another is fishing for prawns at the Gold Coast.
“And while the guys now supplying to us have to travel a bit further to get home (from Laurieton), it has been good for our business.”
With the majority of fishos sourcing produce from either estuaries or the river, Mrs Beakey said outside species catches – such as snapper – were highly anticipated. “When you get more outside produce, it certainly gives us more variety to offer,” she said.
There were also a number of suppliers who ‘chase mud crabs for the Sydney markets’.
While it hasn’t been a full financial year yet, we are averaging about an extra $2000 in fresh produce a week coming through our doors
“But like most fish co-ops nowadays, we also have to source product from elsewhere.”
Mrs Beakey said the Laurieton co-op was in a good position with the closure of several fish co-ops in recent times.
“Crowdy Head closed about three years ago, Hastings closed last year and Wooli has been gone for sometime.
“We are pretty lucky here because we have several profit streams from a variety of sources; the slipway, shop rental, the 20-boat marina and commission from fish.”
With an increase in produce, the retail outlet has increased employment opportunities and extended its trading hours while any extra maintenance work or slip repairs for the co-operative are usually contracted out.
Port Fresh Seafoods’ Scott Trotter said his business regularly purchases fresh produce from the Laurieton outlet.
“It depends on what they catch but we would source mullet, blackfish, snapper, blue eyed cod given the season,” he said.
“But they’ve got good produce.”