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Sally-Bolton

Sally Bolton

Communications Manager, MSC Oceania

Talking seafood and sustainability with Grant Logue of Harley & John's Seafood

May 28, 2021

Harley & John's Seafood has been serving the Wollongong community since 1988. Grant Logue has been the owner for the past 12 years. In November 2020, Harley & Johns became the first independent fish market in NSW to gain MSC chain of custody certification. In March 2021, they were named Community Champion in our Sustainable Seafood Awards AustraliaWe caught up with Grant recently to talk all things seafood and sustainability.

How long have you been involved in the seafood industry?

"For 12 years, I've been involved as an owner of Harley & Johns. Before seafood, I was in the building industry, working in Sydney. I needed a bit of a change and the opportunity came up. I've always had that love of seafood, love of water. If I wasn't surfing, swimming, snorkeling, I was sailing, water skiing, around water. It's always been a major part of my life, living on the coast. I think that helped me have that passion for one, the environment, and two, seafood."

Who are your customers and what do they want?

"We have a wide variety of customers from those looking for a simple, easy dinner to someone that's preparing a degustation for their family and friends. We've got a lot of customers that know about seafood and want specific items and are happy to pay for that quality and service. We talk a lot to our customers about how we process everything on site. We're busy fileting: it does add to the cost, but it also adds to the quality.

"We have customers from the Southern Highlands, Shellharbour, Sydney, that will come down. Especially over Christmas, we had a lot of people traveling. We do have people coming as a destination shop.

"Same thing with supplying restaurants. We are picky and we want restaurants that are happy to work with us and build that relationship up, that want good quality seafood, and want us to be able to get them the best that's available."

What inspires you in your work, to wake up every morning and take on the day?

"Most mornings, I’m up about 5am, but there are earlier mornings. At Christmas, I was probably up about midnight. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy the interaction with the customers. I enjoy being with our staff. It's an enjoyable thing. These other projects, with the MSC and things like that, inspire me to keep going. My boys are very interested and keen in the business, and they come to Sydney with me if I go up. They know all about the MSC and sustainability, because I talk to them about it."

How did you first find out about the Marine Stewardship Council?

"It would have been a few years ago now, with Walker Seafoods, with their tuna and swordfish. I looked into MSC certification then, and I got some of their products and then found out that it was a whole supply chain, and you have to get audited. I was reading up on it and I thought it was something that was just popular overseas. There are a lot of fisheries in Australia that are certified, but there was no one continuing that supply chain through. I thought it was a great opportunity to make Harley & Johns different from other places, and help educate consumers on seafood."

Was there a specific impetus to go ahead with certification last year?

"I think it was being in the middle of COVID last year, looking for something else to do, I thought the timing was right. I think the business was at a point where we needed something extra. And look at everyone. The favorite word last year was pivot, but I think we were just adding to what we already do. It's about educating the customers."

What MSC certified species do you sell?

"We’ve got a wide variety: albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, swordfish, Canadian wild sockeye salmon, scallops, Atlantic cod, prawns, octopus. We've got a massive variety of seafood. Not all available at once, but we've got great access. And as soon as another species comes on board, we're looking at what else we can get."

What are your top sellers?

"Through Christmas, I think our biggest seller would have been our prawns. We had MSC certified ocean king prawns out of Exmouth, which are a great prawn. It got people talking. Being able to sell an MSC certified prawn at Christmas was important to me, and we had some great feedback on it."

What's the reaction been from customers seeing these MSC signs all up around the shop?

"There were a lot of questions to start with, and there still are a lot of questions. Over summer, a lot of people were going to Sydney to Taronga Zoo and actually seeing the seal show there and linking the two, that it's not just a Wollongong, Illawarra, New South Wales thing, it's actually an international standard that we're working to. To be the first store in New South Wales to have that blue tick is something I think is quite important. And hopefully, we can just continue that story."

How has the seafood business changed in the 12 years you've been involved in it?

"It has changed. People want to know the story. They want to know where the seafood's coming from. They want to know the fishers that catch it. They're becoming a lot more knowledgeable about origin. Also, the environmental impact. I think that the MSC blends in with that quite well, being able to tell the story of fish, like Glacier 51 Toothfish. It's an amazing story and amazing fish. We're selling a lot of that now, because of the story. It's MSC certified. And people understand what goes into it. It’s not the cheapest fish, but there's a reason why."

What's your favorite seafood dish to enjoy at home?

"At home? Swordfish. My boys love swordfish. But they are getting into sashimi, so your tunas, kingfish. I get them involved in actually preparing it, we make sushi at home. Getting them involved, obviously encourages them to eat it more and actually enjoy it, because they're helping cook it."

Grant Logue and sons at Taronga Zoo


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