New Zealand is hoping to develop its live seafood export to Australia into a $100-million annual trade, said Seafood New Zealand.
The decision to develop further the industry follows the announcement last week by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy that the ministry will start to pursue live trade along with the development in Nelson of a new harvesting method for fish to bring it on board alive.
Seafood NZ are aiming at exclusive dining establishments and retailers in Australia that would be willing to pay a premium price for various seafood species delivered alive.
New Zealand had high value live exports, mainly rock lobsters, to Hong Kong and China worth $237 million in 2012-13, but Australia blocked the exports eventually, disclosed Seafood NZ Chairman Eric Barratt.
Besides rock lobsters, NZ also shipped live paua, mussels, clams, oysters and eels to other markets such as South Korea for the eels and New Caledonia for rock oysters. The value of the eel exports reached $1.51 million and of rock oysters $1.02 million in 2012-13.
He said to pursue a bigger seafood live trade to Australia, New Zealand would need to pursue technical and negotiation work to assure Australian scientists and officials of minimum biosecurity risks.
These two Oceania nations are very strict when it comes to entry of food products. New Zealand used to export greenshell mussels until the 1990s to Australia, but Canberra eventually adopted a precautionary attitude, Mr Barratt said.
He initially sees bivalves, particularly surf clams, as the first exports to Australia since it could be packed in small consumer packages that present less biosecurity risk, while keeping alive the shipment. Another potential is live fin fish caught in the new Precision Seafood Harvesting.