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Expansion Plans for Australian Fish Company

AUSTRALIA - Australian based company Australis Aquaculture is planning major expansion under its new chairman Ian Mitton.

After more than two years in the US market, Australis, based in Perth, is wading into deeper waters, with plans to enter the European and South-East Asian markets - including Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The company is waiting on licence approval from the Vietnamese government for an offshore fish farm in Nah Trang, just a year after signing a memorandum of understanding with a local aquaculture supplier.

"At the moment, we have access to hundreds of barramundi farms in Vietnam," Mr Mitton told the Herald.

"They're doing an amazing job and some are farming in some pretty primitive conditions.

"But not all of those farms are producing the quality of barramundi that meet our criteria, so we have to be selective."

Issues of quality aside, insufficient water at the Turners Falls farm in the US led to a stock shortage early last year.

But by last May, a month after upgrading its tanks, the Turners Falls farm reached 250 tonnes of fish, or 98 per cent of steady state levels, well on track to reach its 1000 tonne a year target.

Upgrades to a second, larger production well were also completed and have led to better water supply and fish growth rates.

Under the banner of The Better Fish, Australis Aquaculture's US factory is producing 872 tonnes of barramundi - at what the company says is twice the rate of the past two financial quarters and supplying 1,200 restaurants.

"The business being new, it's had its problems," said Mr Mitton, who has been chairman of the company for just five weeks.

"It's getting to a stage now where a number of milestones will be released to the market in the next two, three, four weeks.

"There will be an acknowledgement that the company is operating at its maximum output."

After listing on the Australia Securities Exchange in July 2004, Australis suffered a net loss of $1.87 million in fiscal 2007, reflecting foreign exchange losses and other expenses.

View the Sydney Morning Herald story by clicking here.