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Market Diversification Helps Seafood Export Returns

07 June 2012, at 1:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Returns from New Zealand seafood exports are bucking the international trend and have increased during the first quarter as outlined in the New Zealand Seafood Industry Councils first edition of its quarterly economic review.

The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council says receipts for the first three months of this year have gone up by 8.6 per cent on the first quarter of 2011, for a total of NZ$388 million. SeaFIC says thats very pleasing when compared with falling returns for meat, wood, oil and fruit exports from New Zealand for the same period.

Credit for both increased prices and volumes of seafood exports is partly down to exporters diversifying away from the beleaguered European market and towards other destinations, such as China, which became New Zealand seafoods largest market for the first time last year. China, along with Hong Kong, bought over 27 per cent of New Zealands seafood exports in the first quarter of this year (worth NZ$106 million).

In contrast, the only two European countries in the top ten export list, Spain and France, have bought a falling total of NZ$20 million of seafood from New Zealand in the same three months.

Finfish continues to provide two thirds of the export volume. But high value rock lobster exports for the first three months of this year grew in value by 18 per cent over the first quarter of 2011, seeing it currently increase its share of total seafood returns to 14 per cent. Most seafood exports to Hong Kong are rock lobster.

Reflecting a strong international production trend, 2011 also saw a gradual increase in New Zealand aquaculture exports, of 45,031 tonnes, giving 12 per cent increased sector returns of NZ$307 million for the full year.

SeaFIC says that it New Zealand is continuing its international leadership in ensuring its fisheries are sustainable. In April 2012 the southern blue whiting fishery received certification from the international certification agency, the Marine Stewardship Council, as meeting its internationally accredited standard for well managed and sustainable fisheries. Southern blue whiting is fished in waters to the south of the New Zealand mainland. It was worth NZ$36.3 million last year.

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