The barramundi reach harvest size (about 2.6 kg) about 15 months after stocking. The harvest procedure involves crowding the number of fish required for the harvest next to the pond wall with a net and then scooping the fish out with a special scoop net. They are scooped out in 200 kg lots using a hydraulic crane. The fish are weighed using scales on the crane then immediately placed into an ice slurry which stuns them into unconsciousness.
This technique of keeping the fish free of stress and icing the live fish down immediately leads to fish of extremely fine quality. The whole chilled fish are handled only once more when they are packed for final transport to the buyer. Fresh whole and chilled barramundi harvested this way have a long “shelf life” of more than 2 weeks as long as they are kept at 0-4oC.
The farm produces about 30 tonnes of barra per hectare every 18 months or about 5 tonnes per week. The feed accounts for a little over 50 % of the costs of running the farm. Other production costs are labour, electricity, repairs and maintenance, fuel and fingerlings (total about 34%). The remaining costs are insurances, licencing, phone costs etc.
The other side of aquaculture economics is the selling price. Usually the price the farm sells its fish for is less than half the final retail price. Costs incurred off the farm on the way to the fish shop include transport and packing, filleting and final distribution.