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First “Harvested” Tuna To Be Exported In April Australia, March 27, 13

The first shipment of local harvested southern bluefin tuna will be exported from Port Lincoln in April.

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said a small tonnage of ranched tuna would be marketed next month but the prices received would not be an indicator of the remainder of the season.

“It is too early in 2013 to see a trend in the Japanese market,” he said.

“However, these early prices are not necessarily a good indicator for the market from mid-2013 when the large majority of Australian tuna is sold.”

Mr. Jeffriess said it was unclear how much of this year’s tuna harvest would be exported as fresh or frozen.

“In 2012, the percentage of the harvest going fresh fell to 10 per cent, its lowest ever level,” he said.

“However, this could change suddenly because the Port Lincoln industry is very flexible.”

Japan will remain the major market for local tuna this year and is predicted to stay that way for the next few years, Mr. Jeffriess said.

“The speed of the success of our programs in other markets such as Korea and China all depends on how quickly Australia finalizes Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) with these countries,” he said.

“For example, the import tariff into Korea is 20 percent. Equally important, FTAs ensure you avoid all the non-tariff barriers, so common in Korea and China. Third, an FTA gives us the stability and confidence to invest in building a market.”

Mr. Jeffriess said stability and confidence would be especially important in building a market in China, where there was no tradition of eating high quality tuna.

He said the Australian tuna industry needed an FTA, such as the United States has with Korea and New Zealand has with China, to remain competitive in the international market.