Project number: 2018-087
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $180,600.00
Principal Investigator: Jayne M. Gallagher
Organisation: Honey and Fox Pty Ltd
Project start/end date: 7 Apr 2019 - 21 Jun 2020


The Eel fishers in NSW have been trading their product with China for many years typically selling product via exporters who used the "grey channel". The crackdown on illegal imports to China has resulted in steadily deteriorating prices and apparent demand for NSW eels causing catches to decline - it is simply not worth fishing. Total catch limit of 155.22 t @8/kg (minimum) means the fishery is potentially worth more that $1m pa. Currently less than 30t is caught leaving significant room for growth.

PFA research shows that there is still a large unmet demand for eels in China, Japan and other Asian markets and that the reduced tariffs through the trade agreements has enhanced the economic viability of targeting those markets. The NSW eel fishery recently became managed by quota which has been a catalyst for NSW fishers' need to value add the product and focus on marketing the entire run of catch rather than just those suitable for live. The live market has a definite preference for particular eels but there are opportunities to transform eels not suitable for live into new formats.

The FTP project demonstrated that NSW eel fishers are able to work collaboratively to target new market opportunities for what is currently an under-utilised product. The PFA has been inundated by fishers from NSW, QLD and Victoria asking about prospects for eel markets demonstrating that there is an desperate need to conduct further research to support new legal channels market and product formats that meet the needs of those markets.
We need to
a) Develop and test new product formats (other than live) specifically for the Asian market
b) Define market needs including consumer demand, competitor analysis, channel and supply chain partner identification
c) Understand the economics and logistics requirements to create competitive supply chains that meet market requirements
d) Analyse how to scale up production to meet potential market demand and maximise the value of the catch. This will likely include working with other Eel fishers nationally

The results will advise Stage 2 of this project which is to inform the development of quality parameters for different product formats.


1. To develop up to 5 product formats from NSW wild caught eels and test them in two markets
2. To assess the feasibility and options for commercial scale up should the product formats be demonstrated as adding value to the NSW eel fishery

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9876352-9-7
Authors: Jayne Gallagher Dr Joanne Freeman Patricia Beatty Andre Gorissen and Umar Nguyen
Final Report • 479.67 KB


Following a dramatic drop in demand for live wild-caught eels (Longfin Eel, Anguilla Reinhardtii) to be exported from NSW to China, fishing efforts have significantly reduced, and the fishery is now classed as underutilised. At the same time, there is a global shortage of eels, with demand increasing, particularly in traditional eel-consuming markets such as China, Japan, Korea, and Europe.


At the request of the NSW eel fishers, the Professional Fishers Association, Honey & Fox Pty Ltd, together with Noosa Seafood Market and The Fish Girl, undertook this project to investigate whether there are any viable alternative markets and assess the technical and operational feasibility of capturing those.


The project team worked closely with fishers, their supply chain partners and potential customers to focus on:

  • Developing and testing new product formats (other than live) specifically for the Asian market.
  • Defining market needs, including consumer demand, competitor analysis, channel, and supply chain partner identification.
  • Understanding the technical and operational requirements to create competitive supply chains that meet market requirements.
  • Identifying options for scaling up production to meet potential market demand and maximise the value of the catch. This includes consideration of different business models, including local or regional clusters and/or working with other Eel fishers nationally.

The original project plan was constrained due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which made it difficult to test potential new products in international target markets. Several changes were made to the project methods to deal with the constraints imposed. These are outlined in the report.

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