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Awarded for service to business or industry
Born: 26 March 1961
Entered on roll: 2017
“A champion of the Huon”
Frances Bender grew up in the Huon Valley and built a company with an international reputation that champions the Huon.
Originally cattle and sheep farmers, Frances and her husband Peter owned a butcher shop, started Tasmania’s first trellised apricot orchard and developed a successful contracting business. In 1986, within the family business structure, they began salmon farming before purchasing the family interest in 1994.
The Benders created the Huon Aquaculture brand and began their vertical integration program by establishing two recirculation hatcheries, acquiring leases in Macquarie Harbour, processing whole salmon and a range of smoked products, to enable distribution to national and international markets. They also commissioned the Parramatta Creek processing plant in the north of the State.
Huon Aquaculture is the largest family owned and operated salmon producer in Australia and employs nearly 600 people. The company’s operations span all aspects of the supply chain from hatcheries, marine farming, harvesting, processing, sales and marketing. It is represented in 27 municipalities across Tasmania and is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
In 2001, Frances was voted Tasmanian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Woman of the Year and was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to agribusiness and the community.
In 2013, Huon Aquaculture became the first ever aquaculture company to be named the Australian Biosecurity (animal) Farmer of the Year. Other awards include Primary Producer Award 8th National Seafood Industry Awards 2016, Australian Defence Force Supportive Employer Awards 2014, and in 2013 won a Work Safety Award for the best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue.
Frances has a passion for regional communities. She implemented the Huon Helping Hands Grants Program. She is involved in many varied community partnerships including the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon Collaboration, which takes action to monitor, promote and care for the cool clear waters of the D’Entrecasteaux and Huon estuaries.