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Get them clawing for more: seafood industry needs to focus on local market.



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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Fisheries

7 May 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/287

GET THEM CLAWING FOR MORE Seafood industry needs to focus on local market

With prices for Australian seafood dropping dramatically in recent months, Australian Democrats’ Fisheries Spokesperson Senator Brian Greig is calling on Federal Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald to launch a concerted national advertising campaign to encourage local consumption.

The situation has reached crisis point in Western Australia with the state’s $300 million rock lobster industry struggling to cope as prices have plunged to break-even while north Queensland fishermen believe their businesses are on the verge of collapse.

Many have blamed the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak for the downturn overseas, as people prefer to minimise the risk of contracting the disease by eating at home, rather than dining in restaurants - especially in Asia, Australia’s most lucrative seafood export market, which accounts for 80 per cent of exports.

Senator Greig, the son of a crayfisherman, said the industry urgently needed to look at alternatives to cope with the current crisis.

“Just as in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Ansett collapse when the tourism industry focused on local and intrastate travel, the seafood industry now needs to concentrate on the local Australian market,” he said.

“Seafood is often reserved for special occasions but this is a prime opportunity for suppliers to join forces with the hospitality industry and promote it as a feature special on restaurant and even café menus.

“A national campaign such as ‘Put a cray on your tray’ could be just as effective as the ‘Get some pork on your fork’ marketing strategy was in the past.

“Innovation is the key here, matched with public awareness - it could be a matter of creating new seafood recipes, holding special seafood festivals or even in-store supermarket campaigns.

“And fish and shellfish are renowned for their health benefits, being low in fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which help to maintain a healthy heart, which is another aspect that could be actively promoted.

“Obviously, the downturn in exports is a major blow to the industry but if enough demand is created locally, this will help to offset some of the financial losses being experienced by seafood exporters.”

Senator Greig said Australian seafood exporters could also use the downturn as an opportunity to explore other export markets, such as the United States.

Media contact: Senator Brian Greig or Chris Thomas on (08) 9228 3133

http://www.democrats.org.au