As outlined in the background section, there is an economic and sustainability imperative to maximise the utilisation of the crab resources being sold through SFM. To achieve this it is felt that the following steps should be taken;
To investigate the potential for the development and introduction of a mud crab recovery step at SFM for recovering slow mud crabs.
To develop strategies to reduce the rejection / mortality of mud crabs in the SFM supply chain, especially from suppliers with greater than average rejection / mortality rates. (The rejection rate at SFM in a recent assessment ranged from 0.6% - 15.9%). This will include assessing temperature management issues and determining the most appropriate product packout methods.
To investigate whether the losses in the spanner crab supply chain can be reduced.
Recognition of the ability to redress wastage of mud crab resource was gained by QLD DPI through research within the Northern Territory fishery (FRDC project 2003-240) which identified the best practice handling method of minimising stress in mud crabs through incorporating a recovery step in the handling chain. An outcome of follow on work communicating best practice handling to the mud crab industry (FRDC 2010-302) was identification of the potential opportunity to adopt this practice at the SFM where rejected crabs incur large economic losses as outlined above.
Financial losses on the live mud and spanner crab supply chain into Sydney Fish Market are significant. An analysis of data from the 2010/11 financial year demonstrated that:
- Mud crabs that were downgraded due to being slow represented 2.8% (around 11 tonne) of product supplied worth $71,238 pa.
- Mud crab rejections comprising mortalities and CUC (commercially unacceptable crabs) represented 5% (around 19 tonne) of product supplied worth $430,406 pa.
- Spanner crabs that were dead or slow represented 7% (6 tonne of product) supply and represented a loss of value of approx. $28,000 pa.
SFM is obviously keen to stem these losses and ensure the whole supply chain can redeem as much of this loss as is possible. To that end it has approached the QLD DPI seafood team to develop a research program to address this issue.