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Clean Seas - Fishing for Investors


Clean Seas

PR Company: 

Hughes Public Relations

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2006 C8 - 2



Executive Summary: 

In July 2005, Clean Seas Tuna Limited was a little-known Port-Lincoln based aquaculture company – with a big dream.It was soon to be the first Australian aquaculture company to become a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock

Exchange to fund a world-first Southern Bluefin Tuna Project.To achieve this goal, the company needed keen investors – and it needed them fast.Hughes Public Relations was appointed by Clean Seas, a majority owned subsidiary company of Stehr Group Pty Ltd, to assist with its communication requirements associated with a December 2005 Initial Public Offering of some $18 million.

The consultancy embarked on a three-stage comprehensive communication program to assist Clean Seas with the following:

  • Establishing the credentials of Hagen Stehr and the Stehr Group as a pioneering leader of Australian aquaculture;
  • Assisting the Board (chaired by Hagen Stehr) in presenting a positive and consistent public face for Clean Seas in connection with the listing;
  • Aiding the Board and the Due Diligence Committee, with the coordination of the prospectus, an appropriate corporate DVD and other materials for a September 2005 roadshow;
  • The generation of positive press, TV and radio coverage during what was a critical time;
  • The organisation of an event to commemorate Clean Seas’ listing on the ASX.

On December 12, 2005, the consultancy announced Clean Seas’ historic and successful ASX listing at an 11 per cent premium.

Situation Analysis: 

In late July 2005 Hughes Public Relations was appointed by Clean Seas to assist with the communication of its October, 2005 Initial Public Offering of some $18 million. At the time, Clean Seas was virtually unknown beyond the Port Lincoln region and the inner circles of the Australian aquaculture industry.

Its Chairman, Hagen Stehr, AO was known as a successful “flamboyant tuna fisherman” but not widely acknowledged for his pioneering role in Southern Bluefin Tuna farming or the successful breeding, grow-out and multimillion-dollar worldwide export of South Australian kingfish and mulloway.The communication task facing Hughes Public Relations was threefold:

  1. With relative speed, establish the credentials of Hagen Stehr and the Stehr Group as successful and credible pioneers of Australian aquaculture (prior to the announcement of the IPO and prospectus release in October 2005);
  2. Aid the Board and the Due Diligence Committee formed for the public listing, with appropriate communication tools and opportunities to educate and excite the investment market about the commercial potential of Clean Seas, as a means of generating investment support for the company’s Initial Public Offering (through the issue of its prospectus on October 28, 2005);
  3. Build and sustain investor interest in Clean Seas stock to coincide with the company’s listing on the Australian Stock Exchange on December 12, 2005.

The communication strategy roll-out was based on achieving the above key outcomes within the timelines also outlined above.


The following research was used to ascertain the direction of the media and communications strategy:


  • Prior to embarking on the campaign, Hughes Public Relations consultants visited the Clean Seas’ Arno Bay breeding facility and learned about the entire breeding process and other operational matters;
  • The consultancy undertook qualitative research with a range of aquaculture industry experts spanning both the public and private sectors in Australia and internationally throughout the campaign to obtain knowledge and data for inclusion in media materials;
  • The consultancy undertook web-based desk research on scale-fish breeding programs, markets and similar investment opportunities
  • The consultancy worked with Clean Seas’ financial advisers and underwriters to the float to determine their requirements and those of ASIC;
  • Hughes Public Relations monitored all media nationally to gauge media and public sentiment, and identify and assess issues and opportunities.

Target Policies: 

Target Publics

Three key groups were targeted throughout the campaign;

Key aquaculture industry advocates Key State and Federal MPs, senior bureaucrats and independent academics were among the advocates targeted as part of a strategy to win support for sought-after research dollars from leading Government agencies for the world-first project to come to fruition
The general public The consultancy generated interest in the State’s aquaculture industry and the Stehr Group in the context of the growing international requirement for protein food sources (increasingly from sustainable fishing)
The Eyre Peninsula (local) community It was vital to create goodwill and support for the project among the local community

Communication Strategy: 

The consultancy developed an objective-focussed communication strategy.
Key elements of the strategy are outlined below.

  • The consultancy established and co-ordinated a “communication team”
    o The team – comprising representatives from the lead manager, the underwriter, legal and business advisors – was developed to guarantee the efficient and co-ordinated execution of the communications plan;
    o Ensure the co-ordination and implementation of a critical path to meet the objectives of the IPO in a timely manner.
  • Clean Seas Tuna Limited Chairman, Hagen Stehr’s profile was fine-tuned as the spokesman for the company
    oOffering the media a key spokesman who was at the coal face of the project;
    oEquipping him with media training and key messages as required to ensure consistency of information flow.
  • Key media were targeted and kept informed
    • Key national finance and business journalists were identified and targeted from the on set of the campaign;T
    • hey were kept informed every step of the way and given exclusive angles;
    • This kept them coming back for more and ensured consistent and generous coverage.
  • The consultancy developed an outcome-focussed PR Calendar
    o Each communication opportunity linked to the objectives of the overall strategy.

The communication plan was developed in three parts:

  1. Generation of corporate and influential industry publicity to establish the credentials of Hagen Stehr and the Stehr Group as successful and credible pioneers of Australian aquaculture, including education about the international potential and standing of Australian aquaculture (and Southern Bluefin Tuna, in particular).  This was undertaken from July to October, 2005;
  2. Assisting the Board and the Due Diligence Committee in shaping the Clean Seas prospectus with appropriate information, messages and images likely to positively influence potential investors in the company;
  3. Publicising the company’s Initial Public Offering (to coincide with the issue of its prospectus on October 28, 2005) and building the momentum of information and publicity established in Stage 1 of the program in the lead-up to the company’s listing on the Australian Stock Exchange on December 12, 2005.


Using an outcome-focussed PR calendar as a guide, publicity opportunities were identified, documented and rolled out progressively in keeping with the three-stage communication strategy, building the level of interest as the public listing approached.

  • Regular meetings held between Clean Seas Chairman Hagen Stehr and the consultancy every fortnight to keep the campaign on track;
  • The PR calendar used as a basis to roll-out the communications program and measure its success (See Appendix A);
  • Establishment of a communication team comprising representatives of the Lead Manager Cartesian Capital, the underwriter LCS Capital, legal advisors O’Loughlins and business advisor Capital Strategies. The team met via phone teleconferences and were constantly in touch via email. This process was co-ordinated by Hughes Public Relations.

Supportive Materials

  • Recruited a graphic design and production team to assist in the development and printing of the prospectus;
  • Organised and co-ordinated fortnightly meetings throughout the process;
  • Drafted and edited the required copy, which was constantly changed and updated;
  • Co-ordinated the entire process, from the briefing to the creative team, to the finished product, including the management of the approval process.
  • Planned and recruited photographers, a cameraman and journalist for the production of a corporate video and photo library.

Aquaculture Advocate Briefings

  • Identified and briefed key aquaculture advocates to win support for sought-after research dollars from leading Government agencies for the world-first project.
  • Kept in contact with the advocates in the lead-up to the listing, including PIRSA aquaculture division general manager, Mr Ian Nightingale and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation CEO, Mr Patrick Hone;
  • Used their advice and research materials in funding submissions and media materials.

Media List

  • Developed a targeted media list, which was used as a tool in drip-feeding news releases and other opportunities to interested and responsive journalists.

Media Training

Organised and supervised media training for Clean Seas Chairman Hagen Stehr and his son, Clean Seas General Manager Marcus to improve their media performances and prepare them for all media interviews.


The publicity aspect of the communication plan commenced with a general corporate profile on Hagen Stehr and his highly successful aquaculture company.
Other successful publicity opportunities included (See Appendix A):

  • Announcement of Clean Seas Aquaculture’s success in obtaining a $4 million+ AusIndustry Commercial Ready Grant for the closure of the Southern Bluefin Tuna lifecycle;
  • Introduction of the Clean Seas Board;
  • A story explaining South Australian Mulloway’s five star comeback – from fish and chips to $50 a plate at exclusive overseas restaurants;
  • A first-hand look at Clean Seas hatchery and the propagation program as told by ABC’s Stateline;
  • A profile on Hagen in Australian Investor Magazine;
  • Announcement of the capital raising program, the closure of the offer and the successful listing.

Listing Event

  • Organised an exclusive event to commemorate Clean Seas’ historic listing on the Australian Stock Exchange;
  • Carried out full event management services and media management on the day of the event;
  • Drafted all speeches and supervised the event.

Ongoing Management

  • Leveraged ongoing interest and involvement from key aquaculture and media advocates;
  • Journalists were kept informed with new information and offered ‘exclusives’ along the way, including ongoing successes;
  • Responded to new media interest, which was generated in response to the publicity achieved through the communication plan.


Hughes Public Relations, through a carefully planned strategy and relationships established with key national business and financial journalists, achieved widespread and consistent positive publicity in the lead-up to the listing.

Although Clean Seas was based in remote Port Lincoln, the consultancy achieved national media cut-through by involving company Chairman Hagen Stehr in relevant aquaculture industry articles with mass appeal to the public.

Extensive coverage was achieved in The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, The West Australian, The Adelaide Advertiser and ABC, along with feature-style stories on the group on the ABC’s Stateline program and in Business Review Weekly.  Extensive coverage also was achieved more broadly on radio and television (See Appendix A).

The media coverage generated had a ripple effect throughout the Australian and overseas investor communities. Financial analysts began tracking the company and its progress, alerting investors to the opportunity.

The prospectus – which the consultancy played a key role in shaping and project managing – achieved very positive feedback from ASIC on presentation and review.


As a result of the campaign to position Clean Seas as a sound and lucrative investment option, the company debuted at an 11 per cent premium on the ASX, effectively adding $2 million to the capitalisation of its ground-breaking Southern Bluefin Tuna Project (See Appendix A).

The consultancy continues to work with Clean Seas with positive results.