Live fish exports to be scaled up
The New Zealand seafood industry is looking to realise $100 million worth of live seafood exports a year to Australia.
The chair of Seafood New Zealand, Eric Barratt, says restaurants and retailers in Australia are likely to pay a premium for many seafood species if they are delivered alive rather than frozen.
“Biosecurity is important for both countries, and Australian scientists and officials will want to assure themselves that there is minimal risk of a new species of fish, or any associated organisms, from New Zealand, establishing themselves in Australia as a result of exports,” Barratt says.
New Zealand already exports live seafood to many parts of the world, with rock lobsters consignments to Hong Kong/China being the largest single earner.
“For years we haven’t seriously worked on a transTasman live trade,” Barratt says. “We did have green mussels going there in the early days of mussel farming and even some oysters up to the 1990s. But Australia took a precautionary attitude and exports stopped.”
Barratt says the most likely initial exports are bivalves, in particular surf clams.
Rock Lobster exports to China are by far the biggest value live export worth $237 million. The biggest markets by species are; paua to China, $277,000; mussels to the US, $201,000; eels to the Republic of Korea, $1 million; scallops to Tahiti, $20,000; and Pacific oysters to New Caledonia, $1 million.