THE barra is back, and this time Australis Aquaculture’s barramundi has appeared in the main course of a formal dinner at the White House, gracing the plates of up to 100 VIP guests last week. It probably helped that the prime minister, John Howard, was the guest of honour, while other guests included Australian expats Rupert Murdoch and Greg Norman. Australis managing director Stewart Graham is understandably chuffed, saying there is no higher recommendation to the US restaurant sector than such a formal dinner in the White House dining room. They just need to get this fact incorporated into an episode of US drama series The West Wing. The Note reported back in February that ASX-listed Australis supplied the Trump Tower restaurant in New York with some fine fillets in time for Valentines Day. The company now regularly sends shipments of 200,000 barramundi fingerlings from Australia to its US facility at Turners Falls, western Massachusetts, and is selling whole fish that equate to 100,000 barramundi meals a month in the US. In an announcement to the ASX on May 10, Australis said it would increase its production capability next year by 43 percent to 1,000 tonnes per annum with the completion of its $2.6 million hatchery and grow-out facility expansion in November this year. Australis competes with two other significant local players – Marine Produce Australia and Cell Aquaculture – both of which are involved in fully integrated pond-to-plate programs – growing-out, harvesting and distributing barramundi and other seafood species.