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Assessment and Management of Chemical Residues in Baitfish and Southern Bluefin Tuna 

FRDC is a major investor in the Aquafin CRC and co-invest in many projects that meet both the organisations and industries needs.

Projects assessed in this Benefit Cost Analysis were:

  • Development and Validation of Baitfish Sampling Methods to Address International Residue Standards for Southern Bluefin Tuna (FRDC project number 2003/227).
  • Management of Food Safety Hazards in Farmed Southern Bluefin Tuna to Exploit Market Opportunities (FRDC project number 2004/206).

Background

When the first of these two projects (CRC Project 2.1) was being developed, there was a concern regarding new and emerging international standards for residues in tuna products that could in future restrict trade and market access in aquaculture products. Maintaining market access and use of credible food safety information to promote Australian seafood products was considered a high priority by the industry.

In addition there was a growing demand for information from industry on the early detection of any emerging residue risks, driven by the need to meet international residue standards and provide a scientifically defensible position for Australian product.

Objectives

The objectives for the projects examined in this analysis were to establish the information needed on which to base feed decision support models e.g. wild caught SBT, local and imported baitfish, manufactured feeds, and carcase samples from SBT with known feed histories.

The projects also looked to define the relationship between residue levels in imported baitfish and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for market access of SBT to the Japanese market. In addition benchmark local and imported baitfish, manufactured feeds and screen new potential aquaculture feed species and establish their levels, rate of deposit and uptake of a number of elements.

Benefits

The likely benefits are identified in a triple bottom line framework as follows:

Economic

  • Enhanced opportunity for market promotion leading to retention of market share, increased demand, and price in the Japanese market for Australian SBT.
  • Increased confidence regarding the future expansion of the Australian SBT aquaculture industry based on prospective comparative advantages of SBT over competitor products.
  • Greater certainty on market access continuing for farmed tuna to Japan and the EU.
  • Stronger response capacity by Australian industry to any future trade barriers imposed, especially by Japan and EU for farmed tuna products from Australia.
  • Improved traceability by Australian seafood businesses have been strengthened in response to increasing market access requirements in Japan and other markets.
  • Avoidance by Japanese wholesalers of having to enter into Positive List Insurance of Australian SBT purchases, leading to reduced costs of importing.
  • Saved time in being able to continue to use anti-foulant treatment for nets.
  • Potentially increased market demand in other markets including China, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and the EU.

Environmental

  • No environmental benefits are likely.

Social

  • Enhanced quality of product for consumers in Australia and in overseas countries.
  • Food safety and human health benefits to all consumers of SBT.
  • Increased probability of expansion of the Australian industry with associated employment and added value impacts.
  • Reduced probability of regional social impacts from trade disruption.

Adoption

The Southern Bluefin Tuna Association has distributed information on project activities to its members. Realisation of benefits by Australian companies involved in the projects outcomes has been mixed. However, the adoption of information generated by the Japanese Government has been clearly demonstrated.

Attribution

It is understood that the only part of the benefits from the investment defined in this analysis can be attributed to the two projects and that several other projects also contributed. It is assumed that 50% of the benefits valued can be attributed to the two projects analysed.

Beneficiaries

The beneficiaries are most likely to be South Australian aquaculture producers of SBT and their input supply and market supply chains. Other fin-fish aquaculture producers using imported wet fish diets may also benefit from the knowledge generated out of these projects.

Conclusion

Given the assumptions made, the evaluation shows that the investment by the CRC in assuring its customers of responsible management regarding food safety is likely to have provided very substantial economic benefits. The investment in the two projects of $2.7 million is expected to provide a net present value of $112 million and a benefit cost ratio of 38 to 1.