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A thriving regional food and agribusiness sector and supportive business community have helped fuel the success of one of the Sunshine Coast’s most successful international exporters, Walker Seafoods.

The son of quirky, academic parents who visited exotic destinations and lived in London in the 1960s, it’s no surprise that Walker Seafoods co-founder Pavo Walker took the road less travelled.

Having always had an affinity with the ocean, as a young man Pavo worked as a boat skipper on Sydney Harbour before taking on a corporate role with Sydney Ports Corporation. But it wasn’t long before the call of the ocean saw him hang up his business suit and get back out on the water doing what he loved most – fishing.

An epic first catch

After meeting and marrying his wife, Heidi, who had a background in sales and marketing, the courageous duo bought an old wooden boat, rounded up a crew and set sail in what would become Walker Seafoods’ first vessel. Their first catch was epic and the business began.

But it was a decision to move their fledgling business from Sydney to Mooloolaba in 2004 that proved to be a real game changer. Managing the sales while Pavo was at sea, Heidi learned that buyers were only interested in tuna and swordfish that were sustainably caught.

After a two-year process, Walker Seafoods became the only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified tuna company in Australia. They now have five boats, 60 staff, and are the largest wild caught tuna and swordfish company in Australia.

The company has now won a swag of accolades for their seafood including:

Image: Heidi Walker of Walker Seafoods

Sunshine Coast climate and business community pivotal to success

Walker Seafoods now counts Tetsuya as a friend and Neil Perry’s Rockpool is another famous client. Local stars include Wasabi, Locale, Season, Sails and Spice Bar. Heidi and Pavo can’t emphasise enough how locating their business on the Sunshine Coast has been pivotal to their success.

“The weather on the Sunshine Coast is ideal for our business and allows our boats to be out year-round,” says Heidi.

Heidi also credits their success to the support of the local business community.

“We export fresh whole fish, so things have to move quickly. Once the boats come in, the fish are graded and packed and in a refrigeration truck to Brisbane Airport, only an hour away.

“The Sunshine Coast is business minded. We are supported wherever we go and people get on and get the job done,” said Heidi.

Investment in food and agribusiness

Food and agribusiness is one of seven high value industries playing a pivotal role in shaping the Sunshine Coast economy. For more information about investing in one of Australia’s most dynamic locations for food and agribusiness contact Sunshine Coast Council’s Economic Development branch.

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