Imports provide about 60 to 75% of current seafood supply in Australia according to various sources. But reliable information on the make up of much of this seafood is not available, because of inadequacies in the quantity and quality of data currently published by ABARE.
In our research preparing this application we discovered that there are no statistics available on the volume of some very important species such as basa or barramundi because import data on these species is not collated by Australian Customs because the species do not have an international code number. This lack of data has been responsible for some of the confusion and uncertainty about the role these two imports play in sales and consumption in Australia.
There has been no in-depth study of the imported fish trade in living memory. There is no reliable detailed picture of the types of imports, the nature of their supply chain in Australia, their utilization in manufacturing, bait, retail or restaurants nor their contribution to trade and consumption. (The seafood industry has hardly noticed the strong growth of the canned seafood category and how it has eclipsed the total value of fresh and frozen seafood).
Consequently industry, government agencies and researchers in the fisheries, food, public health and quarantine field have had to rely on incomplete and often unreliable information and quantitative data; this means their decision making and priority setting is impaired.
This study aims to overcome the absence of a detailed reliable picture of what happens to imported seafood in this country and to identify what accurate data on Australia’s imports are available here or obtainable from overseas sources.