Is this a world’s first? Be sure to let me know.

I have found myself involved as the Chief Steward in the Royal Agriculture Society of NSW, and, in particular, the Fine Food - Aquaculture Awards, and it is an impressive operation.

The Awards are held biannually; in February is the judging of Sydney Rock Oysters, Prawns and Salmon/Trout products and in September the judging of Pacific Oysters, Native Oysters and Barramundi. The judging creates class winners then species winners who can go on to win the Presidents Medal, which includes a good financial prize.

The Presidents Medal is definitely the only competition of its kind in Australia and is judged on all fine food products alongside each other on a multifaceted basis. Established in 2006 to reward producers developing products using sustainable practices and raising consumer awareness, the RAS President's Medal honors the very best of the best in agricultural production and comes with the highest distinction.

Aquaculture was brought into the overall competition in 2001 and through continuous improvement has honed the judging to the point where it is looking for the ultimate consumer product covering all aspects from looks through to flavour and consistency. There is the added issue of getting a product of a particular specification to a location on time and in pristine condition and that is an art in itself.

What I find amazing are the in-depth knowledge of the judges, the passion there is within this whole group and the enormous opportunities that this competition creates for the industry. On this last point we still have a long way to go, but the knowledge gleaned from judging must surely be important to breeding issues and anyone in aquaculture farming as they now have key performance indicators to aim for.

With a little imagination and some willing sponsors this could end up in World’s Best Competition and that would surely be worth its weight in gold from a marketing point of view.
See the 2009 Aquaculture Spring Competition results  

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