Cairns Post 22nd September 2010
By Jennifer Eliot
TARZALI Lakes Fishing Park is on the brink of cracking the lucrative Chinese eel market and it's also seeking an investor to capitalise on its diverse and expanding operation.
Owner Peter Whiddett told Business Week the company had been knocked around badly by cyclone Larry but it had emerged optimistic about its future tourism, value added products and export potential.
Within weeks, a trial to grow out eels, kick-started two years ago, comes to a head when the company undertakes its first harvest.
It plans to leap into its slice of a world 800 tonne demand for eels.
"The demand is currently outstripping supply," he said.
"And the reason for this is that you can grow them in captivity but you cannot breed them in captivity and the industry is reliant on wild stocks.
"It's still a bit of an unknown but two years ago we got 300kg of eels the size and thickness of a pencil, with some as small as the pencil lead, and they are not ready to harvest."
The eels have been grown out in ponds although predatation at the organic park is expected to reduce the crop.
At this stage, the company is unsure of exactly how many eels have survived.
Mr Whiddett said, however, the company was expecting a decent harvest and was confident of securing prices of about $22-$50 a kg for the live eels.
The shift towards eel exports follows the company's decision to move into value added products and its smoking operation is now in full swing and is proving to be a huge success.
Mr Whiddett said the company now had 52 product lines of smoked products and crocodile jerky and it was also working on a vegetable jerky to cater for vegetarians.
"There is so much potential out there," he said.
"And having survived cyclone Larry we are really optimistic about the future.
"Now we need an investor to take us to the next level."
© The Cairns Post
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