Sustenance and sustainability

Port Stephens diver Greg Finn harvests seafood by hand and provides the freshest of niche products to some of the world’s best chefs.

Greg’s passion for the sea began when he was a young lad spear fishing with the Newcastle Neptunes Underwater Club. In his 20s, he was was invited to pearl dive in Broome, which he did for three seasons. While a Registered Nurse by occupation, a back injury made Greg reconsider his options, and in 1998 he started to explore the potential in the seafood industry.

Today Greg is a licensed commercial fisherman and diving fulltime, year round, near his home in Port Stephens and further afield in places such as Eden to fill his quotas. He is passionate about the need to utilise local, wild-caught seafood that is hand-harvested and has no bycatch. When line fishing for blue mackerel and blue spot flathead, he picks only the largest fish and returns the smaller ones for another day. Abalone is one of his main products, other offerings are quite unusual and not what people would normally consider buying or eating. Examples are Turban snail conch and sea urchins, which are being used in unique ways by innovative chefs.

While much of Greg’s catch is exported overseas, out of Melbourne to China and Hong Kong, restaurant in Sydney’s Barangaroo is also a loyal and regular customer. Their ethos is a perfect fit with Greg’s own. In order to protect fish stocks and to combat unsustainable fishing practices, promote the use of lesser-known fish, avoid any threatened or endangered species and strictly use only Australian and New Zealand produce. Greg provides with a regular supply of live sea urchin.

“Lots of small, fast-growing species are quite sustainable,” says Michelle Grand-Milkovic, the co-owner alongside her husband Michael. “The issue is how they’re harvested. These urchins are harvested by hand so there’s no by-catch (unwanted sea creatures, common in commercial fishing methods).” Sourcing directly from local fishermen makes for the freshest, most flavoursome produce and seemingly simple, yet mouthwatering dishes. serve sea urchins in a taramasalata with rye toast, radicchio and egg yolk, or live with just lemon, bread and salt. For the abalone special at, Greg suggested to serve it as a schnitzel.

“We cook it the fisherman’s way. It’s literally shuck, crumb, cook. It’s super simple but amazing. It melts in your mouth,” says Michelle. “Greg is an amazing guy. I literally call him with an order, he goes out and catches what we need and then it arrives within hours, fresh from the sea. It’s ocean to plate at its best – direct from the fisherman and we only take what we need,” she adds.

Read more about Greg Finn in the Spring issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine. Available in news agencies or subscribe here and never miss an issue.
Story Maxine Throll, photography courtesy of Greg Finn