Passion for both fishing and the environment motivated Eden brothers Tim and Kyran Crane to found local start-up Ocean2earth in 2019, and the business has continued to invest in their vision.
The pair have forged ahead addressing marine waste problems in the Bega Valley, and in doing so have produced rich EPA-approved, naturally processed sea mineral compost, available for sale both locally and online.
In the Bega Valley Shire alone, this has meant the diversion of up to 400 tonnes of marine waste away from landfill annually, which Tim sees as an important contribution to "the war on waste and the local circular economy".
"Eden has the potential to become a major marine recycling and fertiliser hub for Australia," Tim said.
"We've been at this for nearly four years and have done it out of our own pocket. There is a lot more to collecting and processing the waste than people might think."
While Ocean2earth have a contract with Bega Valley Shire Council to service local boat ramps, all commercial waste is taken away at the expense of the small business.
There are plans in the pipeline to bring out other products such as potting mix and liquid fertiliser, and Tim is proud of being the only fish compost producer in Australia that can boast being 100 per cent natural.
The innovative small business and its product have recently been endorsed by fishing and television personality and sports fishing writer Steve 'Starlo' Starling, alongside chef, television and radio host and author Paul West.
In a short film aimed at public education and funded through the NSW DPI Recreational Fishing Trust, Starlo takes anglers on a journey from the pristine waters of the Far South Coast of NSW to the Old Mill Road biofarm with Paul West.
The long-term goal of the business is to extend the 'compost not landfill' concept right along the Australian coastline, which Starlo said there was real potential to do, '"for the benefit of the recreational fishing industry and broader community".
"This is one of the most exciting developments for recreational fishing and recycling industries I have seen in 50 years," he said.
Aside from the Black Summer bushfires and COVID, a number of challenges have impacted the expansion of Ocean2earth.
Tim said finding a suitable space to expand the business was somewhat difficult, in part because government regulations required a licensed facility to be used.
"We have got so many places ringing weekly from Victoria and up the coast asking us to take the marine waste, because we are the only company actually doing it. There is so much potential," Tim said.
"It's costing industry a lot of money to take it to landfill, they're crying out for us to take it."
Tim estimated a further 2000 tonnes could have been diverted from landfill in the last year, based on the requests he has had.
"We could be converting that into more jobs and more money for our community," he said.
The fishy waste from boat ramps and seafood processors, together with low value timber by-products from the pine export yard in Eden combine to form the powerful and productive compost containing a diverse population of beneficial microbes.
Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) waste strategy coordinator Joley Vidau said council had known there was some better way of handling the smelly material.
"Along came Ocean2earth, two local guys, with a solution to a problem faced by every boat ramp in Australia," Joley said.
"Council is so proud to see this innovation start right here in our shire."
While Tim said council had been amazingly supportive, he expressed disappointment that state government hadn't followed suit.
"Businesses that contact us want to do the right thing with their waste, the lack of vision and motivation from our government is why resources are ending up in landfill," Tim said.
For more information about Ocean2earth visit their website: ocean2earth.com.au.