About Bay Sea Farms
Peter Lillie enjoys living and working on the Mornington Peninsula. His family spent holidays there for generations. The Lillie family was well known for its involvement in the wool industry, and when Peter decided to build a career in fisheries, it was a change of direction.
Peter first took up commercial fishing in 1986, combining his love of quality fresh seafood and his passion for the environment and sustainable fishing practices. When sea leases became available in 2006, Peter, his brother, and a longtime business partner added another major asset to their previous investments. The aquaculture business was clearly the path to take.
The mussel farm developed slowly at first. Mussel farming requires 'seed stock' in the form of spat – miniature juvenile mussels that develop from larvae. The supply of wild spat is inconsistent and unreliable. To solve this problem, and with help from the Victorian Fishing Authority, they established a hatchery at Queenscliff. Within a couple of years it was producing sufficient quantities of excellent mussel spat and Bay Sea Farms was up and running.
The business has grown exponentially since its beginnings and now operates from multiple sites. From its modest harvests of 100 tonnes per year, Bay Sea Farms now produces 450 tonnes of mussels annually and has set its sights even higher, predicting 1000 tonnes per annum in the next two years, with an ultimate annual target of 2000 tonnes.
Video by Lee Chan
"It started with my love of quality fresh seafood and my passion for the environment and sustainable fishing practices."Peter Lillie, Bay Sea Farms
Bay Sea Farms is a vertically integrated business that owns all the important stages of production. This allows Peter to have control of the key factors that ensure quality and consistency:
- the Queenscliff hatchery
- the seeding and harvesting process
- the purpose built processing plant (5 minutes from the port facility at Mornington Pier)
Bay Sea Farms has the water and the infrastructure with over 100,000 metres of vertical growing line.
Peter Lillie leads his business with a clear mission: to produce the best quality mussels from farm to plate. He uses innovative methods for the best results, and sustainable practices to protect the environment. He is personally committed to making sure the Mornington Peninsula retains its unique qualities for the next generation to enjoy.
The Mornington Peninsula is a gastronomic paradise and its unique environment is internationally recognised for its wonderful produce.
Peter Lillie has always championed sustainable fishing practices – even before environmental issues were as fiercely debated as they are today.
Bay Sea Farms continues that tradition. Environmentally friendly practices are at the heart of its philosophy, and each step of the farming process employs the principles of sustainable aquaculture:
- The Queenscliff hatchery supplies the spat required for farming. Broodstock are brought in from the farm and their progeny provide each year's new crop, with no need to take spat from the wild. This means that the sustainability loop has been closed.
- Bay Sea Farms’ Mt Martha Mussels are grown naturally. The juvenile mussels are suspended on ropes, at sea, where they can filter plankton. Unlike most cultured species, mussels cannot be fed or fertilised; this means the whole production process is totally natural.
- The mussels' filter feeding mechanism plays a large part in maintaining a healthy marine environment.
- Mussels also act as a natural carbon accumulator; they infuse carbon into their shells as they grow.
- While the mussels are growing, Bays Sea Farms constantly monitors the water quality. During the past 12 years it has been proven that the waters are among the most consistently safe bi-valve shellfish growing areas in the world. This also means Mt Martha Mussels are available 12 months of the year.
Chefs now demand traceability and a relationship with growers; customers expect the produce they buy to be sustainable and safe. Bay Sea Farms understands that, and meeting these customer expectations is its highest priority.
Bay Sea Farms values and respects the environment and its natural resources.