DICK Perese wants to put Ulladulla back on the map as the home of fresh seafood on the South Coast.
Within the next month, the veteran abalone diver and seafood exporter will have tanks up and running at the Ulladulla fishing co-op making live local seafood available to the public.
In a first for Ulladulla, the massive tanks will hold a variety of live seafood including lobsters, mussels, abalone, oysters, urchins, mud crabs and fin fish such as snapper, available for purchase by locals as well as visitors to the area.
He said the live tanks, including glass viewing tanks, would be a boost for tourism and the local economy.
“I want to put Ulladulla back on the map,” he said.
“A network of local fishermen from Wollongong to the Victorian border will supply live seafood that people can buy, take home and cook the same day.
“People expect to be able to come to a place like Ulladulla and buy fresh seafood.
“Tourists will come for miles for live fish,” he said.
As well as supplying export-quality live seafood locally, Mr Perese said the tanks would be an opportunity to promote the benefits of consuming fresh produce.
“I want to see school kids and busloads of tourists coming down to the harbour to learn about buying fresh seafood and the importance of supporting the local fishing industry,” he said.
“It will be an opportunity for people to learn about the industry from someone who has been in it for 50 years.”
After fishing for abalone for five decades and exporting live seafood for more than 20 years through his company Southern Ocean Seafoods, Mr Perese believes he can be a strong advocate for the industry which, at times, has been the target of negative campaigns by green groups.
Following recent national media attention, he said people were starting to learn that they were “being poisoned by imported fish”.
“The demand is out there for fresh fish and you can’t get much fresher that straight out of the tank,” he laughed.
Based at Termeil, Mr Perese operates similar lives tanks in Tasmania, Eden and Wollongong, which he said were a hit with tourists as well as local restaurants.
A subsidiary company of Southern Ocean Seafoods, Big Boss Seafoods will open its doors after Easter in the co-op building.
He said the fishermen’s co-op board had supported his venture and would reap the benefits of his investment in promotion as well as income from processing his fresh frozen export produce and bait.
Mr Perese is in the process of installing a six-metre by two-metre tank that will hold 6000 litres of water, a smaller freshwater tank, plus a glass viewing tank holding two tonnes of water.
Over the Easter weekend he will be throwing abalone and squid on the barbecue outside his shop, giving away samples of sea urchin roe and talking to passers-by about live seafood and his plans to reinvigorate the industry.
“I hope people will come down for a chat and take an interest in the local fishing industry,” he said.