Australian seafood availability this Christmas
24TH DECEMBER 2005 RECORD NUMBERS OF PEOPLE BUYING FRESH SEAFOOD AT SYDNEY FISH MARKETS ON CHRISTMAS EVE. SYDNEY AUSTRALIA. PHOTOGRAPHER: YASMIN GIMELLARO / SNAPPER MEDIA

Australian seafood availability this Christmas

People buying fresh seafood at Sydney Fish Market on Christmas Eve. Credit – Sydney Fish Market.

The insiders’ tips from those in the know.

Seafood Industry Australia – Jane Lovell, CEO

  • “If you want to be certain you’re eating sustainable, healthy, world-class seafood this Christmas, ‘Ask for Aussie seafood’.”
  • “Gone are the days of the traditional roast, now a beautiful spread of fresh, local seafood has firmly cemented its place as the centrepiece for the quintessential Australian Christmas.”
  • “With beautiful warm weather expected for the big day, people don’t want to slave over a hot stove when they can grab a couple of kilos of fish, lobster or crab; or tossing a prawn on the barbie while they unwrap presents.”
  • “While the variety of Australian seafood on offer this Christmas period is endless, prawns are traditionally the biggest seller and Australians are expected to eat 40 per cent of their yearly prawn consumption during the festive season. However, people should be on the lookout for some of our more underutilised species like Black Bream, Australian Salmon or Octopus as they might be able to nab themselves a seafood bargain.”
  • “Australia’s commercial fishers are working very hard in the lead up to the festive period to ensure we are putting the best Australian seafood on your table.”
  • “To ensure you don’t miss out on your Aussie seafood this festive season it’s always a good idea to place an order with your local fishmonger early.”

Sydney Fish Market – spokesperson

  • “Drought and fire has had an impact on supply from some regions from eastern Australia, however Sydney Fish Market and its retailers work with hundreds of different suppliers across Australia to secure enough seafood for customers at Christmas time. Impacted species include Mud Crabs, Pipi, Octopus and estuary fish such as Tailor.”
  • “Australians are fortunate to have access to a variety of healthy seafood producing regions across the country which supply hundreds of different seafood species year round. Although some species from drought affected regions may be in short supply, there will be sufficient supply of the Christmas favourites to meet the increased demand during the festive season.”
  • “For anyone concerned about prices, this Christmas might be a good opportunity to try something different such as Commercial Scallops in the shell, Gould’s Squid and Sand or School Whiting. Instead of reaching for the biggest prawns available, the insiders tip is to try the small to medium sized varieties which are sweeter and tastier and often a much lower price.
  • Christmas fast facts at Sydney Fish Market:
    • 130 tonnes of Prawns and close to 1,000,000 Oysters will be traded across the site for Christmas.
    • Prices at Christmas can range from less than $5kg for species like Blue Mackerel, School Whiting, Sea Mullet and Blue Mussels up to nearly $200kg for Rock Lobster and King Crab.  
    • Notable species at Christmas include (estimated volumes traded across the site):
      • 40 tonnes of Rock Lobster
      • 30 tonnes of Barramundi
      • 30 tonnes of Kingfish
      • 40 tonnes of Snapper
      • 25 tonnes of Tuna

Sydney Fresh Seafood Group – Veronica Papacosta, Managing Director 

  • “There is always a lot of demand for wild-caught, local prawns over the festive period, but there are a lot of prawns across a variety of sizes and prices to choose from.”
  • “At Christmas everybody wants the biggest prawns they can get, but size shouldn’t count. The King Prawn is designed to make your guests say, ‘oh wow’, and while they are impressive, they are not always the best eating. We absolutely recommend people save some money and go for a smaller prawn like a medium Tiger Prawn, a Crystal Bay Prawn, or a small King Prawn. You’ll see prices for these sitting around the high $30s.” 
  • “Another way to get around the prices is to buy green prawns and cook them yourself. Green prawns are usually about $10 cheaper a kilogram over Christmas and are great to throw on the BBQ, or in a pan with some butter and garlic.” 
  • “There are lots of scallops, Moreton Bay Bugs and Balmain Bugs around at the moment and they should be considered for the Christmas table.”
  • “Blue Swimmer Crabs will be quite expensive because they are at the end of their season, so people who might be looking for a cheaper shellfish alternative are best to be looking at a bug or prawn.”
  • “One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to cater for a lot of people is to put a whole fish in the oven or on the BBQ. Australian Ocean Trout, Salmon, Barramundi or Snapper are always impressive and good to eat.”
  • “Don’t look straight past mussels, calamari or octopus as they are really well priced and are great on the BBQ over summer, but people can overlook them as don’t think of them as Christmas food.”
  • “The price of oysters will rise by $3-5 per dozen, a lot of that has to do with the fact that Pacific Oysters are coming out of season, and depending on temperatures they will begin spawning in December. Because of this there is a reliance on Sydney Rock Oysters which can push the price Sydney Rock up.”

Queensland Seafood Marketers Association – Marshall Betzel, President

  • “This year in Queensland we’ve had exceedingly significant prawn caches, in particular Tiger Prawns and Endeavour Prawns, as well as a very good Banana Prawn season in the Gulf of Carpentaria.” 
  • “It’s been a very, very good season and we’ve seen unprecedented numbers of Endeavour Prawns on the east coast of Queensland and in the Gulf, so they are going to be extremely good value, and you should be able to find them for less than $20 per kilo.”
  • “In my opinion Endeavour Prawns are the best tasting prawn in Australia. It gets a harsh reputation because it’s not the most attractive and it doesn’t stand out in colour, but still water runs deep.”
  • “There should be reasonable quantities of Moreton Bay Bugs around and once again Queensland Scallops are to be considered for the Christmas table. There’s nothing like throwing a dozen or so open shells on the grill.
  • “Both wild and farmed Queensland Barramundi will be in good quantities, and everybody’s favourite, Queensland Mud Crabs should be readily available.”

Australian Barramundi Farmers Association – Jo-Anne Ruscoe, Executive Officer

  • “Fresh Aussie farmed barramundi is plentiful over Christmas, and indeed all year round.”
  • “Australian Barramundi Farmers Association members produce more than 95 per cent of Australian farmed Barramundi. Our members are focussed on sustainability, quality and reliability. We meet the highest international food safety standards, delivering consumers a great tasting, healthy product, from farm to table. The level of quality is evident based on the medals and awards that our members consistently win for their fish.”
  • “A number of high profile chefs, including Matt Moran champion Australia’s national fish – the Barramundi, and summer is a perfect time to enjoy Australian farmed barramundi as a celebration dish, or to cook at home. Barramundi is extremely versatile and you can’t go wrong.”
  • “If you’re eating barramundi at home, there are a range of sizes and prices available from Whole Baby barra to 3-4kg fish and fillets. Our tip is to always shop at seafood outlets who stand on their reputation – and remember to #askforaussiebarra.”

Australian Prawn Farmers Association – Kim Hooper, Executive Officer

  • “Christmas is a great time to have prawns front and centre on the table – they are an excellent source of protein, are rich in selenium which is one of the most effective antioxidants at maintaining healthy cells and high in Zinc, which is important to develop a healthy immune system. With prawns so easy to prepare you can take the stress out of Christmas cooking!”
  • “This Christmas, we are again very excited by the quality and number of Aussie farmed prawns. Our industry has seen some significant expansion this year resulting in plenty of farmed prawns this season. There are a range of sizes and prices so I think it pays to shop around your reputable seafood outlets.”
  • “In Australia we are so fortunate to be able to buy quality and sustainable seafood, so support your local industry and businesses by asking where your seafood is from and buying Australian.” 

Johnathon Davey, Executive Director, Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV)

  • “This Christmas across Victoria there are an abundance of Scallops, Snapper, Barramundi, and your other table staples –including prawns, lobsters, etc…”
  • “Our stocks are managed sustainably and framed responsibly ensuring plentiful supply for Victorians.”
  • “Try something new for Christmas like some Black Bream, Yellow eye Mullet, Gippsland School Prawns, or some Tailor from the Gippsland Lakes. It will be the last opportunity for Victorians and Australians alike to enjoy the amazing, sustainable produce from the Gippsland Lakes before the licence holders are compulsorily removed from their livelihoods due to election commitments.”
    • “This sustainable, small family business, supply of fresh local seafood is being removed to solely ‘enhance’ the recreational experience, which history shows simply won’t happen through the removal of commercial fishing.”
    • “Net fishing is one of the most sustainable, low impact and humane methods of catching fish in Bays and Inlets, however a scare campaign has our political leaders believing the mis-represented and completely false facts and supporting the removal of generational family businesses and jobs to benefit a ‘hobby’.”

Melbourne Seafood Center – Barbara Konstas, CEO

  • “In Australia we are so lucky the festive season is in summer, so we celebrate with old and new traditions. We are seeing a rising trend whereby, people are considering their heart health, and are choosing to include a whole fish baked or BBQed as part of their festive fare. So let’s be thankful for what our seafood industry can provide and support our local industry.”

Northern Territory Seafood Council – Katherine Winchester, CEO

  • Stocks that are plentiful:
    • “NT retailers are reporting great quality and consistent supply across a range of species.”
    • “Retailers are reporting consumers to be bucking the trend from previous by purchasing the smaller (U10) green Banana Prawns rather than the larger green King and XL Tiger prawns. The 2019 Banana Prawn season was very good, so the more affordable Banana Prawns at $39.00 per kg are out competing King Prawns which are selling for $65 per kg and XL Tigers for $55 per kg.”
    • “Consumers are still looking to plate up the popular half-shell oysters, with Coffin Bay and Smoky Bay oysters in NT retailers outlets ranging from $21.90 to $22.50.”
    • “Small whole fish is extremely affordable this year, with a great variety of NT species on display –
      • Brown Striped and Red Spot Snappers selling between $11-$13 per kg.
      • Saddletail Snapper and Goldband Snapper both ranging from $13-$17 per kg.
      • Whole small Rock Cod can be bought from around $13-$15 per kg.”    
  • “The family Christmas favourite whole fish, the Red Emperor (2kg – 4kg) are about $20-$24 per kg.”
  • “Bugs continue to be on the Christmas ordering list – Raw $31-35per kg and cooked $37-$39per kg.”
  • Stock that is hard to find this year:
    • “Live mud crab – the season draws to an almost end from Mid-November, with very small deliveries expected before Christmas and is a first in best dressed, with no orders being taken for this product.”
    • “Retailers have mentioned that they do have stock of frozen green NT Mud crab ranging from $40-$55 per kg.”
    • “NT wild-caught Barramundi is extremely hard to come by, with very little left in the freezers at fish retailer and is around $40 per kg.”
  • High demand:
    • “NT Spanish Mackerel trunks is an unusual purchase by consumers at this time of year, but it is in high demand, with supply not always being met due to weather conditions – selling for $22.50 per kg.”
    • “Both NT and WA squid seem to be a consumers ‘hot buy’ when visiting fish retailers – ranging from $25-30 per kg.”
Western Australian Fishing Industry Council – spokesperson
  • “It’s been a good season of prawns and scallops. But, we would like to try and promote ‘underutilsied species’ i.e. shark, cuttlefish, sardines and there are also the aquaculture species to promote i.e. Geraldton kingfish and Cone Bay barramundi.”
  • “Cooked Prawns Shark Bay and Exmouth (Cooked King/ Tiger prawns ($25 kg; $20 kg raw).”
  • “Move away from dhufish, goldband snapper and try these more affordable, but equally as flavoursome WA fish species:
    • blue spot emperor fillets $34.99/kg;
    • whole crimson snapper $11.99 and whole whiting $15. “
  • “Other species to look out for include:
    • South West bronze whaler shark;
    • WA cuttlefish/squid ($25 Squid – $30);
    • mandurah mullet ($12-$14);
    • Albany and Fremantle sardines, Shark Bay cockles, Geraldton kingfish and Cone Bay barramundi.”
Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council – Julian Harrington, chief executive 
  • “There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than with a fresh, local seafood feast, and there is plenty on offer this year.”
  • “Fresh succulent Tassie oysters, Spring Bay mussels and some cold and hot smoked salmon or ocean trout are all plentiful, and together they make a perfect entrée. And, if you want to take things to the next level and are prepared to pay, splash out on a fresh Tasmanian rock lobster. You won’t be disappointed.”
  • “For mains, some fresh farmed salmon, wild caught pink ling, blue eye or flake will all be plentiful, and they are tasty in the oven, fried, or on the BBQ.”
  • “Want something different? Go to your local fishmonger and ask for an underutilised species. They will even provide advice on how to cook your new fish species. You certainly won’t be disappointed with the offerings and they are generally easier on the pocket.”
  • “Don’t miss out – place your orders early.”

Wildcatch Fisheries SA – Dennis Holder, president

  • “Blue swimmer crabs, $25-$35, bigger resulting in them being more expensive.”
  • “Western King Prawns, $20-$45, bigger resulting in them being more expensive.”
  • “Rock lobster $100kg minimum.”
  • “Mulloway is a good substitute for Snapper which is closed to fishing in SA, $15-$30 er kg.”
  • “The rest are mainly processed and fillets ranging from $20-$80 per kg.”

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For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Jane Lovell please contact:

SIA Media and Communications Manager Jessica McInerney 

M: 0420 695 431

E: jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au