A CHANCE to get an up-close look at a key player in the Australian abalone industry was taken by Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau during her visit to the south-west this week.
Ms Dessau visited Southern Ocean Mariculture in Port Fairy where she was taken on a tour by facility owner Mark Gervis.
The tour included an inspection of 96 grow-out tanks which began operation earlier this year.
These new tanks will help increase production of the facility from 70 to 110 tons of abalone per year.
The facility has a strong export market with 75 per cent of its product going overseas with the rest going to Sydney.
Ms Dessau said visiting Southern Ocean Mariculture had been a rewarding experience.
“Being in the south-west of Victoria I know I am somewhere where most of my food and fibre is produced,” she said.
“To get this glimpse into clever aquaculture is really a privilege and what these people have done here is exciting.
“They have grown a fantastic business, which is great for this part of the state because so much of their product is exported.
“They have had to try different things and perfect different things and now they have this fantastic operation.”
Mr Gervis said after more than 20 years, the business was now where it wanted to be.
He said the governor’s visit was a great opportunity to show the progress that has been made.
The export product is canned and vacuum packed at a local processor in Portland.
The farm has undergone significant expansion in the last two years, with the addition of a new staff office and storage complex.
It employs about 20 people.
On Wednesday Ms Dessau also visited the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape, followed by a tour of the Lake Condah Mission.
She also toured Shaw River Buffalo Farm at Yambuk
She will stay in the region on Thursday, visiting other significant south-west sites and businesses.
On Friday she will officially open the Port Fairy Folk Festival.