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Oceans and fisheries
News article21 December 2020Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

For the love of nature: EU supports a new fish farming business in Austrian mountains

Martin Traxler took a life-changing decision. For the love of nature, he left his previous managerial job in Vienna to start a fish farm in the mountains of Styria, Austria. Learning aquaculture by self-study and through exchange of experiences with other fish farmers, Martin, with the support of his wife Elke, has built an enterprise that covers the entire value chain: from rearing to marketing and serving products at his restaurant on-site. EU-funding has helped turning his vision for a different life into a successful reality.

After a law degree, Martin worked at the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists, and then as managing director of a publishing house, which he turned into a strong and successful business. In 2015 though, at the peak of his career, he went for a radical change: he announced his departure from his previous job to start a fish farm.

Together with his wife, Martin decided to take advantage of their family holiday house in the Styrian mountains to implant the fish farm. Local conditions were ideal: The altitude (900m above sea level) and the Pretulbach stream flowing through the property, with a steady supply of clean cold water, made the site perfect for a small fish farm. The Traxlers started with rearing brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and later added Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). The name of the Char family is Saibling in German. Thus, in 2016, the Pretul Saibling company was born.

While the company bought the first batch of young fish from other farms, it now has breeding stocks of both trout and char, making it self-sufficient. The production capacity is 3 tonnes/year. No medicines are used and the farm meets the criteria for organic production, though it is not yet certified as such. The company is family based, with the Traxlers working full time and two supporting part-time employees.

Pretul Saibling not only rears the fish, but also processes them and markets them through its website. The char is offered as whole fish, fillets, hot-smoked, cold-smoked, and in soups, spreads and pâtés. Customers are usually inhabitants of the surrounding area and tourists. As a secondary source of income, the Traxlers also opened a restaurant, which seats around 20 people inside and another 20 outside.

The enthusiasm and hard work of the Traxler family allowed them to bring a high-quality regional product to market and to convince visiting customers of the quality of their local fish. Moreover, they have generated local employment and added economic new economic activity in the region. Given the high initial investment for a solo entrepreneur, the EU-funding was instrumental for the Traxlers to take a life-changing decision, motivated by the love of living in nature.

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Publication date
21 December 2020
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries