Dinko Lukin, tuna farming pioneer
Croatia born Dinko Lukin arrived in Melbourne in 1956. In the early 1960s he built himself the Orao, which went on to become a renowned part of Port Lincoln’s history. It was the boat on which Dinko first poled tuna in the Great Australian Bight. In the 1980s government bodies stated overfishing of southern bluefin tuna had put stocks at risk and in 1985 quota was introduced and enforced for Australian fishermen, with similar restrictions on Japanese and New Zealand fishers. The governing body considered this insufficient and in 1989 tuna fishers had their quota and income cut by two thirds.
The Port Lincoln tuna industry experienced tough times and a number of fishermen went into receivership.
Dinko threw the industry a lifeline when he hatched the groundbreaking idea of farming this fast swimming ocean fish. Many in the industry thought Dinko “was mad!” – but he succeeded the first time. In retrospect the idea is quite simple, but it had never been done anywhere else in the world. The method allowed fishermen to demand a premium price for their fish in Japan as they would be handled without bruising and could be flown fresh, direct from the sea to the markets.
It also doubled the fishermen’s quota as the limit on their catch was determined by the weight of the fish caught in the wild, with any weight gained in captivity a bonus. This is now the internationally accepted method for tuna farming. Dinko is widely recognised as the pioneer of the tuna farming industry.