Kristina Georges, owner of Samies Fresh Seafood Market in Hamilton, with stacks of fresh fish.
QUEENSLAND’S peak seafood body has flagged troubled waters ahead for the state’s fishing industry and it could come at a price which is sure to hurt seafood lovers’ budgets.
Business information analysts at IBISWorld have found Australia’s love of seafood is growing, with each person expected to be eating close to 20kg of seafood a year by 2021.
Their recent report into Australia’s fish and seafood consumption found the fishing industry is struggling to keep up with the demand.
Queensland Seafood Industry Association vice president Keith Harris said prices for popular fish, such as barramundi and salmon, would skyrocket because of a range of challenges.
“The price is likely to increase by fishermen so they can make a living,” he said.
“Supplies of fish will soon become scarce and therefore mean it will become more expensive to sell.”
Figures reveal the nation’s fishing industry is on track to record just a 0.9 per cent profit growth over the next six years.
Queensland accounts for 25 per cent of the fishing industry in Australia, the most of any state, and the subdued profit came as no surprise to Mr Harris. He said everything from the weather to fishing regulations were hurting the industry’s revenue.
“So far, the catchment this year hasn’t been too flash because of lack of rain and recent net-free zones put in place around the coast,” he said.
“It’s an abysmal outlook.”
Mr Harris said many seafood wholesalers up and down the Queensland coast were struggling to keep up with Queensland’s demand for seafood.
“There are a lot of fishermen who have been put out of work.”
However, trawlers off the coast of Queensland dragged in the best stock of tiger prawns in almost 20 years.
Austral Fisheries, which operates out of Cairns and trawls through areas near Cape York Peninsula, recorded their best stock of tiger prawns right in time for the Christmas rush.
General manager Dylan Skinns was very pleased with this year’s catch.
“The last time the fishery produced near this level of tiger catches was 1998,” he said.
Freshly caught bonito. Picture: Russell Shakespeare Source: News Corp Australia
Kristina Georges, owner of Samies Girl seafood market in Brisbane’s affluent inner-north suburb of Hamilton, sells the brand and says customers are starting to ask whether a fish comes from a sustainable fishery, although they are more interested in its country of origin and freshness. Coral trout and barramundi remain favourites but she says a sure-fire way of getting mullet or mackerel on the household menu would be to encourage cooking shows such as My Kitchen Rules or MasterChef to use them.
The Samies team accepting the Telstra Business Award.
Samies Girl Seafoods, established by fishmonger Kristina Georges in 2005, won the Yellow Pages Social Responsibility Award. She was recognised for her ‘Save Our Sea Turtles’ initiative, a fundraising program aimed at protecting and tagging Moreton Bay turtles.
TBA judges said Samies was positioning itself as a thought leader in the fishing industry by influencing legislative policy, grass-roots and primary school education programs and industry-wide acknowledgement of sustainable fishing practices. They also said that Samies has achieved results across numerous areas beyond the fishing fraternity.
Sensis Chief Operations Officer Gerry Sutton said the Yellow Pages Social Responsibility Award was fitting recognition for Samies which has demonstrated leadership through its commitment to sustainable business practices. “It is a great example to others who strive to reduce their impact on the environment and run a successful business.”
Moreton Bay is looking a whole lot cleaner around the Hays Inlet and Pine Rivers Entrance after last week’s effort by local commercial fishermen, community members, Government agencies, and national not-for-profit organisation, OceanWatch Australia.
Over the course of two days, on 1st and 2nd September, volunteers were transferred by vessels and skippers provided by Moreton Bay Marine Park, Maritime Safety Queensland, Fisheries Queensland, QLD Boating and Fisheries Patrol and the Department of Environment and Resource Management. The staff from these agencies was instrumental in the cleanup, working with volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia, the Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association, the Redcliffe Environmental Forum, the Pine Rivers Catchment Association, Samies Girl Seafood, Colliers Crane Hire, the Moreton Bay Regional Council and the Osprey House Environmental Centre to clean up a 1.84 km stretch of primary fish habitat.
Sixteen people were involved in the 4 hour cleanup effort on the first day, removing the larger debris which included pontoons and refrigerators. The second day involved 45 volunteers to finish cleaning up the mangroves over the course of 3 hours. Access to the cleanup site was limited to the high tide and only accessible by boat. Despite this limiting factor, over 7 tonnes of debris were removed in this small amount of time!
Kristina Georges from Samies Girl Seafood presenting Jon Collier from Colliers Crane Hire a presentation seafood pack for donating his time and crane to help remove rubbish from the cleanup.
Brad Warren, Executive Chair of OceanWatch Australia, said, “The local seafood industry throughout the State is still recovering from the floods and this cleanup signifies another step in the right direction to ensure we have a sustainable seafood industry in Moreton Bay into the future. We are extremely grateful for the support of all the volunteers who were involved in the cleanup in Hays Inlet last week. OceanWatch will continue to work with the industry, government agencies and volunteers throughout Queensland over the coming months to improve water quality and marine habitats”.
A post-cleanup survey of the marine debris collected identified the following items:
Cleanup coordinator and local OceanWatch Australia Tide to Table Project Officer, Patrick Sachs, said, “The effort and determination from everyone involved was incredible. All these items have the potential to harm wildlife, pollute waterways and damage habitat vital for a healthy ecosystem. Hays Inlet is recognised as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention and to restore the area feels great. To top it all off, Moreton Bay Marine Park officer, Anthony Muyt, captured a pelican and removed fishing line that was wrapped around its wing, emphasising the importance for on-ground works and collaborations such as this cleanup”.
OceanWatch Australia is a national not-for-profit environmental organisation working to advance sustainability in the Australian seafood industry. OceanWatch Australia supports this initiative through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program. If you know of an area that needs a good cleanup in Moreton Bay please contact Patrick Sachs on 07 3286 6194, or email – email@example.com and at www.oceanwatch.org.au
She believes in angels, crystals and the power of mermaids. But if you think Kristina Georges is crazy, just take a look at what she's achieved in business.
Kristina Georges is a little, well, different. And before you think this writer is being irreverent, they're her own words.
"I definitely think I'm different," Georges admits.
Husband Harry agrees.
"Yeah, she's different," Harry says in a brief appearance. "She's very spiritual."
But Georges isn't a reiki practitioner, an astral traveller or a feng shui consultant.
Fishmonger Kristina Georges at her Milton shop, Samies Girl. Picture: Luke Marsden Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld).
She's a fishmonger - a Greek fishmonger who heads a heavyweight retail operation with a host of staff, assets and liabilities, a business bobbing on the ocean of vagaries that are the seafood industry. Pretty serious stuff, you might say.
Clearly, there's a rational and hard-headed woman in there who knows her spreadsheets from her astrology charts.
But it's also clear Georges infuses her business with a charmingly karmic and spiritual flavour.
You get back what you give out; nurture staff and the return on the investment will be great; positively visualise what you want; believe in the laws of positive attraction.
"I fell asleep reading The Secret," she says. "I already knew all that stuff."
And then there's the stuff that would send shivers through the suit-wearing, wood-panelled boardrooms of the country - she believes she has "little angels"; she has a crystals consultant who comes regularly to the office to tweak the energy levels; she believes St Gerasimos protects her and so prays to him when she is ill. She also believes in the power of - mermaids.
"I chose the mermaid as she chose me for the logo of my business," she says.
"The mermaid lures humans to the unknown and forbidden.
"They are beautiful, loving and exotic and have the power, the magic, of healing the soul."
There must be something to this spiritual approach. In late-2005, she and Harry took over a seafood business that wasn't just tarnished, but crippled and have recreated an institution, Samies Girl seafood market.
Georges is the daughter of Spiro "Sam" Noutsatos, who with his wife and 18-year-old son Nick, started a tiny seafood business in 1984 with a little truck and a lot of hope. By 1999, the business was turning over $23 million a year when son Nick bought out his father with grand plans for expansion. The business was floated in 2001, but it was a case of too big too fast, and by May 2005 Sam's Seafood had gone into receivership with creditors owed $3.3 million.
They finally got back 9 cents in the dollar.
Georges was a non-executive shareholder with just 7.4 per cent of the business.
She had worked in her father's shop since she was 13 and went into the business straight after Year 10. There was no business degree or shiny marketing diploma to hang on the wall, just a sense of tradition and a feeling in her heart that customers would remain loyal. The business lost almost a third of its goodwill since the collapse, she says.
"From the time of the collapse, I knew it was going to work. If you have enough passion anything will work. There's so much more to it than meets the eye - my waters broke in this shop, you know. And I knew people came here because it was a family business."
Her first bid was knocked back. The next was accepted, and so in December 2005 Georges and Harry started afresh, christening the shop Samies Girl.
Harry says "things fell our way". Georges reckons her "little angels" were heavily involved.
The wall of Georges' office sports a montage of thank-you cards and letters from people and institutions around Brisbane in gratitude of her support, help or donations.
Her office is also a jumble of sports memorabilia, from signed helmets and photos, to rugby jerseys and even a V8 bumper bar.
"She's always the first one with her hand up at (charity) auctions," says business associate and friend Kerry Reid.
"She's so generous. She's a real doer. She moved mountains during the floods."
Reid's business was one of many in West End which Georges rushed to help during the January floods, rustling up hundreds of gumboots, food and cleaning products.
Among friends and associates, Georges' philanthropy is legendary. She supplied pallets of seafood to the Red Cross during the floods, provided prawns and salmon at Australia Day barbecues in four flood-affected suburbs and delivered food to Grantham after the devastation.
After hearing recently about the coming marriage of Big Issue vendor and local identity "Grant The Polite Guy", she catered for the wedding.
"And you don't even hear about half the stuff she does," Reid says. "When it comes to this stuff, most people write a cheque. She just does things."
Or as Georges puts it: "Passion is from the heart, not the hole in your pocket."
KRISTINA Georges is a passionate business owner on a crusade. The fishmonger established Samies Girl Seafoods by buying a business formerly owned by her family that had gone into receivership.
Her father Sam had started it more than 20 years earlier but was not involved when Ms Georges purchased and revived the Hamilton icon.
Ms Georges' first job was working for her dad as a 14-year-old selling seafood, hence the new name.
The business has been named a finalist in the Telstra Business Awards, in the Yellow Pages Social Responsibility Award category for her work saving turtles.
SAVING TURTLES: Kristina Georges of Samies Girl Seafoods is a marine conservation advocate.
"Plastic bags can do terrible damage to life if they find their way into the sea,'' she said.
"The bags can be mistaken for food such as jellyfish, and once swallowed can shut down digestive systems, often causing a slow painful death."
Samies Girl supplies reusable chiller bags as an alternative and donates all proceeds from the chiller bags to a turtle tagging program called Save our Sea Turtles.
The program includes the distribution of an education kit and Mrs Georges' children's book, Angels Do Swim, has been introduced into 667 Queensland primary schools.
Ms Georges, whose business employs 11 full-time equivalent staff, is a strong advocate of sustainability in the seafood industry.
Samies Girl promotes the fish names program by selling fish labelled with name and origin so that customers can see the business sources non-endangered seafood.
Winners of the Telstra Queensland Business Awards will be announced at the Sofitel Brisbane on July 12. They will receive a share of the $500,000 in cash and prizes.
THE special contributions of seafood-related businesses or individuals have been recognised with the 2009 Queensland Seafood Awards.
Awards have been presented in eight categories: Seafood Restaurant; Seafood Business; Industry Producer; Research & Development; Promotion; Environment; Training; and Industry Icon.
The awards are co-sponsored by the Queensland Seafood Marketers Association (QSMA) and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA), with the assistance of Queensland Primary Industries & Fisheries (part of the Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation).
QSIA President Michael Gardner said all awards were well deserved but it was particularly pleasing to see QSIA immediate past President Neil Green honoured as “Queensland Seafood Industry Icon”.
“Neil has spent many years working to represent the seafood industry at various levels and, in particular, dedicated three years of his life to the role of President of the QSIA, during which time he achieved major goals for our industry,” he said.
“Neil has now returned to fulltime fishing and this acknowledgement by his peers after his period of selfless service to the industry is richly deserved.”
He said the winners receive acknowledgement for their achievements in Queensland and also go on to represent the State in the Australian Seafood Industry Awards in conjunction with Seafood Directions, Australia’s peak industry conference, in Melbourne early next year.
“These awards recognise excellence in the Queensland Seafood Industry,” he said. “They showcase the Queensland seafood industry, its value to the state and national economies, its professionalism, and its commitment to supplying some of the finest seafood in the world to the local, national and international markets.”
The winners are:
Seafood Restaurant Award
Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant
Seafood Business Award
Ingham Road Seafoods
Seafood Industry Producer Award
Australian Prawn Farms
Research and Development Award
JCU – School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Seafood Industry Promotion Award
Endeavour Prawn Promotion – Adpower
Seafood Training Award
Seafood Directions Pty Ltd
Seafood Industry Icon
Ayr (Alva Beach)
FURTHER INFORMATION: QSIA President Michael Gardner on 0409 991 150.