Live export opportunities for value-adding of Australian freshwater and estuarine fishes

Project Number:



Southern Fishermen's Association Inc

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





Preliminary estimates indicate that South Australia's inland/estuarine commercial fishers may be missing out on $3.5-24.5million annually from their relatively static finfish production, representing 67%-540% of the current domestic landed value - all from the lack of a readily available, robust live transport technology! This likely translates to proportionately greater export losses nationally - and missed Industry earnings for reinvestment. At the same time, experts (see FRDC Project Report 92/125.26) indicate much research is already complete. However, for Australian inland/estuarine finfish, no well evaluated and packaged system exists to make live export marketing happen now. Despite the massive value-adding success from export of quality marine fish products to high demand Asian and other overseas markets, Australian freshwater parallels have not been developed. Production potential from freshwater and estuarine wild capture fisheries has limited capacity to expand, therefore, industry profitability incentives must focus on obtaining greater return on sustainable harvest. Australian freshwater and estuarine fishes are consistently and depressingly undervalued relative to equivalent species on overseas markets (eg, black bream seldom exceed $14A/kg on the South Australian market despite a 96% reduction in harvest since the 1970's while the almost identical Japanese or sea bream, Acanthopagrus latus, regularly returns $45US/kg in Asian metropolitan markets). Concurrently, development of aquaculture capacity for these same freshwater and estuarine species lags behind higher return marine counterparts due to inadequate profit incentives. This is particularly evident given that similar species worldwide are typically more robust to culture conditions and therefore first to be cultured. Successful development and transfer of live shipping technology for key Australian freshwater and estuarine species to both wild capture and aquaculture industries has the capacity to overcome these current limitations. Live marketing of wild production can harvest export value, increase profitability per unit production, and provide an identical mechanism for development of a parallel domestic market. Typically, export initiatives provide extremely strong incentives for continuous improvement of product quality. Success in a foreign market also provides excellent protection of our home markets through competitive advantage. The profit incentive of elevated prices domestically and abroad will necessarily spur development of cultured production of these same species.


1. To evaluate and document the range of live transport options available worldwide for golden perch, Murray cod, mulloway, cockles (pipis) and black bream relative to survival, cost, and simplicity/practicality.

2. To investigate the value-adding potential of live marketed fish of the nominated species on three major Asian metropolitan fish markets relative to market acceptance/need, value at auction, product tailoring, continuity of supply, promotional needs and import/transport costs.

3. To document the resulting system aimed at maximizing net return to fishers per unit product (by species) in the form of a export marketing plan, and as a brochure providing a step-wise "how to live export freshwater and estuarine finfish" process.

4. To successfully incorporate/transfer any resulting value-adding export marketing system successfully into industry.