From small beginnings
Every big business starts as a small one—Huon Aquaculture (Huon) started out in 1986 in Dover’s picturesque Hideaway Bay as the Bender family business. In 1994, Peter and Frances Bender bought out the family and began to expand Huon by contract-growing salmon. They continued with this model until 2005 when they stepped out and began to grow, market and sell their own Huon Salmon and Ocean Trout.
Today, Peter is Huon’s CEO and Frances is the Board’s Executive Director.
Peter and Frances Bender in the 1980s and today
Over the years, dozens of Tasmanian-based salmon farms have come and gone and Huon remains the only continuously running, majority family-owned Tasmanian salmon farming company. Getting here is thanks to a combination of hard lessons, ingenuity, luck, and determination.
Hideaway Bay, the home of Huon Aquaculture in the 1980s and today
In 2014, Huon took the step to list on the Australian Securities Exchange in an effort to raise a significant amount of capital to expand and further modernise the business.
Fast forward to today, and Huon employs over 700 people, farms Huon Salmon and Ocean Trout, sells fish across Australia and internationally, and leads the world in farming technologies such as our smart feed system.
At Huon we practise a holistic approach to fish farming. We achieve this through having a strong focus on fish health, welfare and biosecurity.
Unfertilised salmon roe and a salmon undergoing health checks
- Veterinary Health and Biosecurity Plan (VHBP): Our VHBP encompasses all areas of fish health and welfare. It aims to identify and define management and husbandry protocols and procedures throughout the lifecycle. The VHBP was developed with broad staff involvement and is regularly reviewed and updated to promote continuous improvement in all areas.
- RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme: In 2018, Huon Aquaculture became the first salmon producer to join the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. This achievement came after meeting the RSPCA’s detailed animal welfare standard for farmed Atlantic salmon and undergoing a rigorous and continual assessment process. Now Huon is able to supply Australia’s only range of RSPCA Approved salmon, enabling consumers to choose seafood that has been grown to higher welfare standards. The RSPCA’s standard for farmed Atlantic salmon does not allow for the farming of salmon in Macquarie Harbour therefore, 98 per cent of Huon’s salmon is currently farmed to the standard.
- Biosecurity: Huon Aquaculture has a biosecurity plan that covers all aspects of fish farming and processing. This includes education and training, and implementing good fish husbandry through water quality management, health monitoring, vaccine use and ongoing research.
- Stocking density: By giving our salmon plenty of room to move, they are able to behave and school naturally. We also have the lowest stocking density in the world at 99 per cent water to 1 per cent fish in any given pen.
- Reducing stress: Reducing and eliminating stress on our salmon is a key focus at Huon and directly contributes to the overall welfare of our fish and the quality of our products.
- Antibiotics: We believe that antibiotics should only be used as a last resort, which is why we practice a holistic approach to farming. Huon did not use antibiotics at any of our sites, freshwater or marine, in the 2019-20 financial year.
- Vaccines: Vaccines are routinely used very effectively in livestock, pets and people to control a range of diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. As fish have a functional immune system that is similar to that in mammals, vaccines can be used in the same way to improve fish health and welfare outcomes.
- Fish feed: Our fish feed needs to provide them enough energy to live and thrive and must also supply all the nutrients (proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals) to grow. We know exactly what our fish have been fed, which means that when you purchase Huon Salmon and Huon Ocean Trout you know it has received safe, sustainable, traceable feed.
The hatchery is where it all begins for our fish and we are continually improving our practices to care for them from the moment that the eggs are hand-milked from our broodstock, right through to when they’re transferred to sea.
Alevin in the hatchery and smolt inside Whale Point
- Huon’s Freshwater Improvement Programme (FIP): A strong example of Huon’s investment into the industry’s future is our Freshwater Improvement Programme. The FIP delivers uniformity of operational requirements across sites, but more importantly, places a cap on discharge limits and site biomass capacities to reduce the potential for any adverse environmental impacts.
- Our freshwater sites: Huon has several freshwater hatcheries and facilities across the state to take advantage of a wide range of environmental conditions.
Huon has three marine regions in which fish are farmed: the Huon and D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Macquarie Harbour, and offshore in Bruny Island’s Storm Bay. Each of these sites has its own set of environmental conditions including wave and wind exposure, depth, distance from shore, and seabed composition.
The Ronja Storm wellboat and a Fortress Pen
- Huon and D’Entrecasteaux Channel: At Hideaway Bay, Dover, you’ll find where Huon Aquaculture began. Peter and Frances began salmon farming here in 1986 with one pen of fish and a single employee. Today, Hideaway Bay operates as the shore base for operations in the state’s south.
- Macquarie Harbour: Located in the mid-west of Tasmania just below Strahan is Macquarie Harbour. The Harbour is important to our operations as it has a mix of fresh and salt water which is ideal for farming Ocean Trout.
- Storm Bay: Our Storm Bay lease has what we believe to be the roughest farmable waters in the world with swells of 4-6 metres regularly rolling through the pens.
As a fully vertically-integrated company, we manage every single step in the process including harvest, processing, packing and dispatch.
Inside Parramatta Creek and cold smoked Huon Ocean Trout
- Harvest: How our fish are harvested and the processes undertaken to prepare them for market directly impacts on the quality of the finished product.
- Food safety: Across our processing sites, food safety is extremely important. This is why Huon holds several certifications that relate to food safety standards.
- Parramatta Creek, TAS: All of the fish we farm is processed at our Parramatta Creek processing facility. This strategically-located facility is around 30 minutes from Devonport and houses our state-of-the-art smokehouse and product innovation centre.
- Ingleburn, NSW: Product is also sent from Parramatta Creek via the Spirit of Tasmania to our Sydney factory based in Ingleburn. At Ingleburn, the processed fish is value-added for major retail customers.