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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Tony's Tuna International
Cleaner Production - Water savings

A detailed investigation into water usage and wastewater generation at Tony's Tuna, identified possible improvements in both quality and quantity, particularly in the wash down and pilchard thawing areas. Savings from decreased water usage alone have been over $24000 a year.


The tuna industry currently dominates aquaculture in South Australia and has an economic value of over $500 million. Tony's Tuna International (TTI) was established in 1990 and, based in Port Lincoln, is one of the major tuna processing companies. Using locally farmed blue fin tuna from Emily Krstina, a company within the same group,  TTI produces frozen and fresh sashimi tuna primarily for the Japanese market. It is one of the most modern tuna processing plants operating in Port Lincoln, having undergone a major upgrade in 1998 to include a 'superfreeze' facility. This has allowed the production of frozen tuna and a significant increase in production volume. Previously, only fresh tuna was produced for air freighting in relatively small volumes. TTI has 25 full time staff and also employs about 35 during the seasonal harvesting and processing period from June to September.

Flinders University of South Australia carried out a cleaner production consultancy with a grant of $15,000 from the South Australia EPA and funding through Environment Australia's Coast and Cleans Seas Program administered locally through the Port Lincoln City Council. The consultancy covered eight major processing facilities in Port Lincoln. As the industry is a significant water user in an area where water is a scarce resource, and a significant contributor to sea discharges from the City wastewater treatment plant, the focus of the project was on water use and wastewater.

The process

Farming: Tuna for processing are farmed about 8km offshore and fed with pilchards, mainly sourced internationally but some locally. The pilchards are received frozen from suppliers. Some of the pilchards are thawed at TTI's processing plant, and fed directly to the tuna or used as bait when harvesting. Some are placed frozen in slow release feeders at the fish farm and thawed by sea water before being fed to the tuna. At harvesting the tuna are placed in bins and transported to the processing plant.

Tuna processing:  The 25,000 sq m. processing plant receives about 28t of tuna a day during the seasonal harvests. The tuna are gutted and cleaned and  prepared for freezing or, in the case of fresh tuna, for air freighting. 1800t of frozen tuna and 600t of fresh are produced a year, all bulk packed. The 'superfreeze' facility consists of five blast rooms and two stores, each with a 200t capacity. Waste from processing goes for chicken and pig feed or, if unsuitable, to landfill. Relatively little water is used in sashimi processing.

Pilchard preparation: Pilchards are received in freezer containers from international (7000-8000t a year) and local sources (400-500t a year) and placed in the cold store and thawed as required. The traditional approach to pilchard thawing was to defrost the pilchards using cold water in open tanks with water running continuously. This approach was inefficient and required more than 12 kL per tonne of pilchards. Traditional  washdown practices also used water inefficiently and wastefully. 

Waste water from washing goes via sewer  to the City treatment plant from where, after treatment,  it is discharged to sea.

The process room

The process room

Cleaner production initiatives

TTI has always carried out monitoring of water quality and use, but began its present cleaner production initiatives in 1998. A detailed investigation was made of water usage and wastewater generation, considering both quality  and quantity. This identified areas where major savings could be made, particularly in wash down and pilchard thawing. The investigation found that during the period March 1999 to March 2000, TTI used 26,877 kL of mains water, mostly for pilchard thawing. 

An investigation into the optimum regime for temperature exchange during pilchard thawing showed that significant savings could be made by changing the water inlet to the base of the thaw out bins and by pulsing water exchange via solenoid valves. AQIS requirements are maintained through the use of backflow prevention valves on the main inlet pipe.

Possible additional savings during wash down were identified and further changes in operational procedures in order to save more water and improve ongoing wastewater treatment charges in the future. The activities identified for continuing savings in water usage included cleaning freezer rooms, harvest bins, pilchard thaw bins, vehicles and net cleaning. Hosing down after scrubbing with  cleaning agents is now done through flow regulator nozzles.

Cold store

The cold store


The process used for pilchard thawout was improved significantly and water usage has decreased from more than 12 kL/t to approximately 3.73–5.6 kL/t, depending on mains water temperature, with no increase in processing time.



Water usage

A reduction of >12 kL/t to between 3.37–5.6 kL/t in water for the thawing of pilchards.

Waste reduction

Reductions in nutrient load in wastewater will have significant benefits for the reuse of wastewater treatment plant effluent being implemented in the Coast and Clean Seas initiative.




Productivity and cost efficiency have increased significantly as a result of changes implemented.

Water usage costs

Water usage has decreased resulting in direct savings in excess of $24,000 per annum for pilchard thawing alone.

Future waste treatment costs

Future trade waste discharge fees to sewer will be based on both volume and strength; savings in charges through waste minimisation and separation of high nutrient streams, use of screens, etc will result in significant future savings.

Payback period

Costs associated with the new pilchard thawing system are low (total <$1000 for new piping, solenoid valves, bin adaptations).

The payback period for measures aimed directly at waste minimisation is estimated to be less than 1 month.

Cleaner production incentives

The implementation of a new marine discharge policy by the EPA in 2001 required TTI to instigate new wastewater discharge practices or treatment at significant cost to the company . Wastewater minimisation and reducing water usage costs were therefore considered important for the continuing economic operation of the facility. The Coast and Clean Seas Program was also an important driver for this study.


No significant barriers were encountered, especially in view of the financial as well as environmental benefit of the initiatives. Since the measures were mainly good housekeeping , their success depended on educating the workforce, especially contract employees.

Further Developments

TTI is continuing to gain the benefits of this initiative and of related improvements in water usage and wastewater.

It considered installing a treatment plant so that the wastewater could be recirculated, but decided against this on the grounds of cost and because of the risk of infection by micro-organisms. 

Port Lincoln City Council is planning to upgrade its treatment plant so that waste water from all of the fish processing plants can be recycled for appropriate use.


David Krollig, Plant Manager
Tony's Tuna International Pty Ltd
PO Box 261196
Port Lincoln SA 5606
Ph: 61 8 8682 2266
Fax: 61 8 8682 5429
For information on the Coast and Clean Seas Project in Port Lincoln contact:
Janet Robertson, Project Officer
Port Lincoln City Council
PO Box 1787 SA 5606
Ph: 61 8 8682 3033
Fax: 61 8 8682 6252
Date of implementation: 1998-2000
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing.
Case study initially  prepared: June 2001 by Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production, Curtin University of Technology, based on a case prepared in January 2000 by Port Lincoln City Council with assistance from the South Australia Environment Protection Agency
Date last modified:  July 2001.