Local seafood a state winner

AWARD: Local fisherman Aaron Whittle with his boat Powerfactor II, which he uses to catch premium southern rock lobster.
AWARD: Local fisherman Aaron Whittle with his boat Powerfactor II, which he uses to catch premium southern rock lobster.

Three local producers have been named state finalists in the delicious produce awards.

The 2019 delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards state winners were announced on April 16, with Port Lincoln producers taking three of the five placings for the sea category.

Aaron Whittle was named for his southern rock lobster, Cleanseas Australia for its Spencer Gulf hiramasa kingfish and Gazander Oysters for premium Pacific oysters.

Gazander Oysters owner Steve Thomson said he appreciated the recognition from consumers.

"It's nice for the industry to have an oyster grower recognised at a state level," he said.

"It keeps us at the forefront and helps us to rebuild our brand as an industry."

He said while his company had a tough year, it made the decision to continue producing quality products to fill gaps in the market.

"We are by no means a big farm...but that's where we want to focus our business on, on the premium style products," he said.

"Customers are assured of what they're getting, even when it's tough like this, it can be tempting to grow things quicker but we've decided we don't want to compromise and that's our main point of difference.

"We appreciate the recognition and it's nice to know the work we do put in is recognised by consumers."

Aaron Whittle, who was named as a finalist for his southern rock lobster, said it was the first time the species had been entered into the competition.

"It had never been entered and so I had a crack at it," he said.

"It was tasted in Adelaide and obviously they thought it was good."

Mr Whittle said fishing for the premium product was a 'good challenge' and the fishery was doing well.

"The fishery is quite sustainable at the moment, so the public can get out and enjoy the product," Mr Whittle said.

Cleanseas chief executive officer David Head said the award was a continuing affirmation of the Spencer Gulf kingfish's quality, which was one of the world's most premium seafoods.

Last year the company took out a national gold medal in the seafood category for the delicious awards.

"To keep getting these awards year after year just confirms that it's arguably the best raw fish in the world, and it's important to affirm that proposition," he said.

"We've spent the best part of 18 months talking to chefs from all over and they haven't found a better fish.

"It's a very significant claim for a Port Lincoln business who are punching above their weight globally, but we've experienced substantial growth all around."

He said it was an important affirmation from independent judges that customers were making the right choice.