Tuna Poler statue plaque

Tuna Poler Statue Launch in Port Lincoln

The recent Tuna Poler statue launch at Port Lincoln was an exciting event. The idea of this iconic statue came from Jim Kay and the Port Lincoln Rotary Club, with Axel Stenross Maritime Museum managing the funding provided by generous donors. The current multimillion dollar tuna industry in Port Lincoln grew from tuna poling in the early 1960s, when only a  handful of boats were involved.

Tuna Poler statue

Tuna Poler statue on Port Lincoln foreshore

Renowned sculptor Ken Martin

Sculptor Ken Martin created this wonderful tribute to the early tuna polers working in the fledgling days of the tuna industry. Ken says the face of the tuna poler is not any one person, but a mix to show the fierce determination and courage needed to do this work. Much admired were the colours Ken achieved for the waters surrounding the poler’s feet. The statue shows the poler braced against a low metal rack as he hauls aboard a 40+ kilo tuna, with nothing much between him and the icy southern Ocean.

Sculptor Ken Martin sits in front of the Tuna Poler staue he created

Sculptor Ken Martin

Original tuna polers there

It was especially moving to see a number of the original tuna polers there on the day, to mention a few Jack Bellamy from the Tacoma, Lawrie Vahlberg and Hagen Stehr AO.

Hagen was guest speaker at the launch, bringing alive the camaraderie and dangers those fishermen faced. The Axel Stenross Maritime Museum has an extensive display of the history of the local tuna industry.

original tuna polers

Original tuna polers Jack Bellamy, Lawrie Vahlberg and Hagen Stehr AO at the launch