Seafood Industry Australia has absorbed the responsibilities of the National Aquaculture Council and launched a new aquaculture advisory committee.

SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta told SeafoodSource the NAC takeover is aimed at providing a united voice in Australia’s aquaculture sector, and that SIA’s resourcing and working relationship with the government will help the larger group better advocate for the seafood industry.

“It was almost a refining of the landscape to make sure that we were all working towards the same goal, but SIA has good resourcing and really good momentum at the moment, especially with the government,” she said.

Papacosta said new eight-member aquaculture committee will be made up of a representative from every sector of Australia’s commercial aquaculture sector, including abalone, barramundi, inland aquaculture, kingfish, mussel, oysters, prawn, salmon, and tuna.

“It’s a very good combination of new, innovative thinkers, and very experienced operators as well. We’re really pleased with that,” Papacosta said. 

The committee will focus on eliminating barriers to growth for the industry in Australia. Papacosta said one of the AAC’s first goals is to create the first-ever Australian export plan for seafood. China is still Australia’s biggest seafood-export market outside of the lobster sector, but the AAC is examining ways to break into Europe and the Middle East as export markets, she said. As part of that plan, SIA has appointed Julie Willis as lead trade export manager to steer the industry’s strategic export market diversification and expansion plans, amid lingering COVID-19 impacts and ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region.

In July, the Australian government awarded SIA an AUD 888,000 (USD 655,000, EUR 571,000) grant to help seafood businesses open new markets, which Willis will help oversee.

“Julie comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience across international trade, marketing, and business development, having spent many years working in international trade market development, most recently for Hort Innovation Australia managing the whole-of-horticulture export brand ‘Taste Australia,'” Papacosta said.

Papacosta said SIA is also looking into creating an Australian seafood brand, and creating a platform that allows international customers to be introduced to Australian producers.

“We’re looking at the greatest Australian seafood pavilion, which we think is an online approach, and gives a much more transparent view to customers of who the producers are and what products are available,” she said.

Papacosta said throughout its marketing efforts, SIA wants to ensure that an Australian seafood “brand” captures the sustainability of the country’s products.

“It’s very important to us and we are making sure that people understand the integrity of the Australian seafood brand,” Papacosta said. “So it’s not just because it’s beautifully produced in lovely waters, but we have a lot of integrity in our brand new in terms of … labeling, traceability, and food-safety criteria.”  

Photo courtesy of crbellette/Shutterstock

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