The oceans and waterways of Victoria are teeming with bountiful varieties of fresh Australian seafood. Its nature’s pantry and it forms a significant portion of the average Australian diet - with around 25 kg of seafood consumed per person every year and growing.
Victoria’s fishing spots stretch along Victoria’s coast from the most western point of Portland east to the border at Mallacoota, and through inland waterways. Most seafood is caught within three nautical miles of shore. From the water to the waiter, visitors can enjoy the fruits of the fisherman’s labour at restaurants from the fine dining to the fish and chippery on the beach.
Rock Lobster: Southern Rock lobsters (Jasus edwardsii) are harvested all along the Victorian coastline. Rock lobsters are marine crustaceans and prefer to live in sheltered caves, under rocks and in crevices from close inshore to depths greater than 200 metres. Rock Lobsters are dark red in colour. They feed mostly during the night on bottom living invertebrates including small crustaceans and molluscs. Sharks and octopus prey on rock lobsters. The Rock Lobster fishery is Victoria’s most valuable professional fishery. The main ports are Apollo Bay, Queenscliff, San Remo, Lakes Entrance through Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Port Campbell. Diner’s wanting to try rock lobster can do so at the Lobster Cave in upmarket but quaint seaside village of Beaumaris or at riverside Atlantic Bar and Grill at Crown Melbourne. The annual Kilcunda Rock Lobster Festival in Gippsland is a not to be missed event for lobster lovers each January. There’s live music, lobster sales and lunches, and market stalls.
Scallops: Commercial scallop fishing occurs offshore with dredges, and through hand collection in Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay and from the ports of Lakes Entrance and Welshpool. Scallops are bivalve molluscs meaning they have two shells joined together. Larval scallops drift as plankton for up to six weeks before first settlement. They attach to a hard surface such as seaweed or mussel and oyster shells and remain attached until reaching around 6mm in length. The small scallops then detach themselves and settle into sediments. Scallops can live to be ten years old but they are commonly caught scallops after two years of age after reproducing at least once. Fishing for scallops is generally limited from July to December when the water temperatures are coolest. At this time of the year the scallop is in the best eating condition. Delicious scallops can be found at Claypots Evening Star at South Melbourne Market, perfect on a balmy summer evening during the night market.
Mussels: Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. Blue mussels live in intertidal areas to a depth of 15m, as well as estuaries, oceans and coastal waters. Blue mussels are edible bivalves commonly served in restaurants and sold at local fish shops. Victoria’s annual production of mussels is more than 1,000 tonnes, is worth over $3 million and is on the rise thanks to increasing exports to Asia and America. Port Phillip and Western Port are the home of shellfish aquaculture in Victorian. The industry has been established for over 30 years and has a proven track record of growing premium quality seafood. Port Phillip and Western Port are ideal locations for marine aquaculture because they have clean oceanic and bay water of the right temperatures to grow shellfish, and are close to markets, transport and research facilities at Queenscliff’s successful shellfish hatchery. Portarlington Mussels, on the Bellarine Peninsula, are said to be some of the best quality, tastiest mussels in the world and can be found in many of Victoria’s restaurants including two of its finest Rockpool Melbourne and Attica.