Getting to know… Nick Arena, Managing Director Tailor Made Fish Farm and Cook a Barra Restaurant
By trade, Nick Arena is an electrician and builder. It was during a fateful kitchen and bathroom renovation, when he got chatting with a few marine biologists about the future of fish, that he decided it was time he cement the fate of Australian barramundi by opening a fish farm.
Eighteen hard working years later and Nick is the Managing Director of the largest barramundi produce in the state. According to Nick his biggest asset to his success was his trade background and his desire to learn the science and process in operating a fish farm.
“80% of what we do is practical, hands on work. As a builder farming made a lot of sense to me. We also had to get the formula right, to make the farm viable we had to get the plumbing right, our energy efficiency right, be environmentally friendly, we use solar energy to heat the facility – all of these things make us viable,” Nick says.
At any one time the farm has 200,000 fish on site. The farm buys the barramundi in as babies, only 25 ml in size and already weaned and eating solid food (like buying a kitten or puppy). The barramundi spend nine months growing at the farm until they are a normal weight of 750 or 800 grams where they are sold in the live market in Sydney.
Always looking towards the future, Nick opened a restaurant next to the farm six years ago after a constant stream of curious tourists and locals kept stopping in. A portion of the farmed fish is sold in the “Cook A Barra” restaurant that allows tourists to taste the freshest barramundi around.
“Today we get schools, Tafe groups, Universities, Probus groups, one-on-one tourist groups all stopping at the farm, the interest is unbelievable,” Nick says.
For Nick, the leap from tradie to farmer and restaurateur has been a real learning curve, but he is still investing and looking at ways he can improve food production in the Port Stephens area.
“It’s been rewarding but also a real challenge,” Nick says. “We want to add more value for tourists, and I do believe that environmentally friendly sustainable food is the future.”
Interesting Facts… Tailor Made Fish sells one tonne of barramundi per week – that’s a lot of Barra!
Find out more about Port Stephens Fresh Sea Food