Name: Maria Mitris-Honos
Occupation: Chief executive officer
Business: Pacific Reef Fisheries
Works: Melbourne and North Queensland
How did you get into doing what you do?
My family had just sold their poker machine manufacturing business and my father was taking it is easy. Someone he used to work with brought it to his attention that there was a prawn farm for sale in Nth Qld. He thought – well, that looks to be the way of the future. He then offered to buy it over the phone without even seeing it and that’s how it all began. The way he likes to put it - from microchips to fish and chips!
Tell us about Pacific Reef Fisheries.
Pacific Reef is situated in Nth Qld, just south of Townsville. We have a great team who pride themselves on where the farm is today. We produce over 1000 tonnes of premium black tiger prawns and around 100 tonnes of sashimi grade cobia. The team’s focus is very much on quality at every step so that we can produce the best product for all our consumers to enjoy.
You’ve been working in seafood production for 19 years. How has the industry changed in that time?
Certainly, our methods have progressed over that time which has helped us stay financially sound. We’ve also increased our per hectare yield which means more prawns for everyone to eat. Our quality is also something we pride ourselves on. We put everything into ensuring quality is at the forefront every step of the way.
Sustainability can be such a buzz word. What does it mean in how you carry out business?
Pacific Reef is at the forefront of research and development in the areas of feed supply, discharge water management, domestication and energy management, and there have been some major breakthroughs in the last five years. These are the key areas that we need to focus on in terms of environmental sustainability. At Pacific Reef being sustainable applies just as much to our environmental performance as it does to our financial performance.
What role do you see aquaculture playing in the future for general seafood production?Sustainable farming practices are a critical part of the world’s current and future food production, not because it is fashionable but because our future will depend on it.
What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
A personal reward for me has been that I have watched Pacific Reef grow from a small farm to one of the largest aquaculture farms in Australia but the biggest reward by far is that we grow and produce sustainable seafood to put in the mouths of many Australians.
Using your product, what do you like to cook at home?
I love having black tiger prawns in the oven split down the centre with lemon oil and garlic. It’s sublime.
You can follow Maria and what goes on at the fishery on Instagram @pacificreef
Interview by Amanda Kennedy, Amanda is an artist currently doing a writing degree. You can find her on Instagram @artbyamandakennedy