I feel everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of our waters and we all have to look after it for the long term.

Leon Van Weenen

I am a third-generation fisherman and have always had a passion for boats and fishing.  I used to fish with my Dad, (Alec Van Weenen) who was a seasonal fisherman, and my Grandpa, ( Len  Valente) who fished fulltime. Grandpa was born in Italy, then migrated to Australia.  They fished for snapper and shark, but mainly King George Whiting.  My great-great grandfather on dad’s side was  Dutch.  He met his wife in England and her ancestry is related to the Wills’ of Burke and Wills fame.  Dad was born in Adelaide and when he was a young man moved to live in Streaky Bay, where I was born.

I love the outdoors and being on the water.  I love the challenge of fishing and being my own boss. I feel everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of our waters and we all have to look after it for the long term.  It’s not about fishing for today but fishing for the future.

I used to average about 250-300 days fishing a year, fishing for whiting, crabs, snapper, shark and squid.  Now I fish two or three days a week.  I am an established fisher and, together with other commitments, my wife and I are involved in the care of elderly parents and between us our 6 children and 4 grandchildren, with another to be born in September.

Since 2013, I’ve been fishing for octopus.  They are amazing creatures.  To learn more about them, Lily and I wanted to do a more extensive study and participated in an ecology and biology program with the University of South Australia that covered areas from Tumby Bay to Coffin Bay, Venus Bay, and Dangerous Reef.

I have about four deckhands that I rotate for the larger Octopus fishing (Pallidus) and Lily fishes the Berrima (octopus) out of Venus Bay with me.  We commute between Venus Bay and Port Lincoln.  I fish the West coast, and love what I do. Lily often says I have salt water in my veins, not blood. There is a lot of travelling on the road to meet the freight truck, and also local fish buyers. We are very  particular In using lots of ice to keep our product in pristine condition.

I fish for octopus using pots.  I fish from habit and knowledge developed over my life as a fisherman, and look for the right type of bottom to put the pots.  I watch out for traffic from other vessels so that the floats don’t get chopped off.  We bag the octopus as we catch them, the pallidus species in 20kg bags and berrima species in 12 kg bags, and put the bags in a floating ice slurry.  I try to sell to local processers.  Some processors market our octopus in vacuum packed trays ranging from 1kg to 5 kg or to suit your order. We also pickle it, just because we can and it’s absolutely beautiful.  We have  perfected the oils and vinegar.  Some processors do a bulk pack, you can receive octopus frozen or fresh, and straight to restaurants.  We appreciate the local fish buyers who always go above and beyond to market our product as though it were their own.

My favourite fishing story was when one wintry day I went out snapper fishing but only caught one snapper.  I was coming home through the Coffin Bay Channel and noticed a man fishing from the jetty.  I asked him if he had had a good day, and he said no.  My one snapper wouldn’t help me and I gave it to him so that at least one of us got to benefit from it.  When he got home, I can just imagine the story he told his wife!

 Suite 27, 6-8 Todd Street, Port Adelaide SA 5015

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