Project number: 1999-357
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $1,519,007.63
Principal Investigator: Ted Loveday
Organisation: Seafood Services Australia Ltd
Project start/end date: 30 Mar 1999 - 30 Mar 2004


Like many of Australia's primary industries the seafood industry needs to adjust constantly to changing consumer preferences and expectations and changing market conditions. The seafood industry also has to contend with changes in the availability of the resource.

Industry and governments throughout Australia recognise the need to support the continued growth of an internationally competitive sustainable seafood industry in Australia. This need has resulted in a significant increase in the pace and scope of regulatory reform and policy changes (environmental management, food safety, occupational health and safety, training, marketing etc). Thus the operating environment is in a state of constant change as it moves towards one of increased industry self regulation and responsibility.

There are significant challenges in achieving sustainable industry development - one of the most pressing is the need to drive a cultural change which results in an industry following world's best practice in management and operations ensuring that there is maximum return for the resource.

Consumers and therefore governments are increasingly demanding assurance that the food they eat is safe. Regulatory reform in this area is being driven by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority in the development and implementation of the proposed National Food Safety Code. Victoria has already passed their legislation and other States have drafted legislation ready for consideration by their governments.

The international trade environment is also changing rapidly with increased scope for implementation of non tariff barriers to exports - typically relating to food quality and environmental management. The economic crisis in Asia has already negatively affected the levels of Australian seafood exports, a trend which is expected to continue unless there is an increased focus on identifying and meeting the needs of the marketplace.

Developing seafood industry standards (accepted nationally and internationally) incorporating food safety, quality and environmental management elements provides a significant opportunity to ensure change occurs to meet these challenges.

With the operating environment changing so rapidly there is an increasing need for the development and adoption of seafood industry standards (accepted nationally and internationally) incorporating food safety, quality and environmental management elements. The standards development process provides a significant opportunity to ensure that the cultural change required to achieve the vision for the industry will occur.

The capabilities that are proposed to be brought under an "Australian Seafood Centre" (ASC) would provide the impetus to develop and manage the adoption of such standards and would provide coordinated products and services to all stakeholders.. With many industry development initiatives existing at State and National level there are significant opportunities for achieving a bigger and faster impact through better networking and integration. The ASC would provide a focus for post harvest initiatives, creating critical mass for achieving significant outcomes to benefit all stakeholders (government and industry).

The recently released SeaQual strategic plan "The Seafood industry's Strategic Plan for Achieving Seafood Excellence" identifies five key goals and a number of strategies for achieving them. The plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of industry and government stakeholders and recognises that success will depend on commitment from all stakeholders including the allocation of appropriate resources.

At the recent workshop held in Queensland, all States identified the need for work to be done in relation to seafood safety and quality, particularly in the development of agreed and accredited industry guidelines and in the eventual development of agreed industry standards. It was agreed that SeaQual Australia could provide immediate benefits to all States by providing key linkages with agencies with responsibility for food regulation and by networking the State based SeaQual operations.

The proposed development of an “Australian Seafood Centre” initially with seafood safety and quality management capabilities – SeaQual Australia is a major and complex project which will need both a strategic and an operational focus. It will meet the need to manage and review the implementation of the Strategic Plan while achieving the synergies and consequent cost efficiencies through the provision of a “single window” to the seafood industry on food safety and quality issues. It will ultimately do the same for all post harvest activities.


1. Establish SeaQual Australia (SeaQual Mark 2) and State SeaQuals in each State and the Northern Territory
2. Implement the Seafood Industry's Strategic Plan for Achieving Seafood Excellence" (SISPASE) with a high priority on Food Safety and Quality Management
3. Establish the Australian Seafood Centre: delivery of cost effective, competitively priced seafood post harvest services through the integration of new and existing services (including SeaQual Australia) under one centre

Related research


SeSAFE – Delivering Industry Safety through Electronic Learning

1. INFORM, via an independent review, the design and application of user-pay funding models in Australian primary industries, the potential for a similar model to be introduced by SeSAFE in the fishing and aquaculture industry, and steps recommended to realise this outcome.
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