Love Seafood Festival in Port Stephens through August

PIPIS DELIGHT: Pipi harvester Mark Phelps with some of his produce which made a huge hit at the Love Seafood Festival in Nelson Bay.
PIPIS DELIGHT: Pipi harvester Mark Phelps with some of his produce which made a huge hit at the Love Seafood Festival in Nelson Bay.

The delightfully diverse fishing and seafood industry in Port Stephens is being celebrated as part of the Love Seafood Festival throughout August.

The festival, which kicked off with a hugely successful gala dinner on August 4 at Broughtons At The Bay, showcases the seafood industry while honouring the farmers and growers who catch and harvest produce  served fresh to the plate.

Robert Gauta, manager at the Commercial Fishermen’s Co-Operative which represents more than 100 fishermen from a range of depots including Nelson Bay and Newcastle, said the festival deserved the support of locals and visitors alike.

“This is a great concept with many benefits to the hard working fishermen and growers of Port Stephens, and it is a fantastic opportunity for local chefs to demonstrate their talents,” he said.

“The Co-op supplied the seafood for around 160 people who attended last Saturday night’s gala dinner, including the prawns, squid, snapper, flathead and crabs.”

Mr Gauta said that he hoped people would encourage people to continue to support the local seafood industry, which has been doing it a little tough.

“Mother nature does have a major influence on the industry and there’s a common saying that drought on the land coincides with drought at sea.”

For first time Love Seafood participant Mark Phelps, a Nelson Bay pipi harvester, said this was a great opportunity to promote seafood in Port Stephens, which remains a world leader in seafood production.

“The popularity of pipis is growing and becoming quite a delicacy on restaurant menus all over the world. They have a unique taste and can be cooked in a variety of Asian, European and Mediterranean dishes.

“There are large populations of pipis existing up and down Stockton and can only be harvested by professionals for health safety reasons. It is illegal for people to take them off the beach and we harvest them according to a strict food safety plan.”

The festival’s highlight will feature a weekend of live cooking demonstrations, seafood tastings, lunch and dinners, oyster shucking, educational talks and kids activities, to be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 18 and 19, at d’Albora Marina in Nelson Bay.

This weekend will also feature seafood masterclasses, entertainment, fish feeding, touch tanks, interactive displays and more from 11am on August 18 and 10am on August 19. 

A special screening of the documentary Oyster will show at Nelson Bay cinema on Saturday, August 18.

The movie was a finalist at the 2018 Sydney Film Festival and recently took out the Best Environmental Feature Film at the 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival in the US.

The feature-length documentary captures the daily routines, chaos and drama of a lively, hard-working second-generation NSW oyster farming family.

“It really captures a day in the life of oyster farmers – their joys, worries, the challenges, “Andy Myers, program manager – aquaculture at Oceanwatch Australia, said.

“You really experience the wonderful environment oyster farmers work in and their connection and knowledge of the water system they work with.”

Following the screening, which starts at 6pm, there will be a Q&A with Port Stephens oyster farmers.

Tickets, available through Destination Port Stephens, cost $19. 

Buy tickets through DPS by calling (02) 4981 2964, email info@portstephenstourism.com.au or buy them online from the portstephens.org website.

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