The fisheries and aquaculture production in Australia is valued at more than $2 billion annually and exports of seafood products (especially to Vietnam, south-eastern China and other Asian locations) are valued at least $1.2 billion. Domestic seafood consumption is estimated to be at 15 kilograms per person each year.
It’s true that efficient seafood production is a key to reaching those numbers. However, we also have to consider proper transport (e.g. proper handling, packaging, temperature-controlled delivery, limiting contamination, prompt transport and delivery) in keeping the seafood costs low and staying competitive in both the domestic and international markets.
Role of proper transport in the aquaculture industry
More than one-third of the final purchasing costs of seafood products (i.e. when the end consumer buys a kilogram of prawns or fish) is due to transport costs (fuel might be taking a large part of that). In other words, we can’t eat most of what we pay for because the money is going somewhere else (fuel, delivery vehicles, inspection, quality control, temperature control). All these things are important in making sure that everything we consume is safe and suitable.
For example, raw fish intended to be eaten raw (e.g. fish in sushi, sashimi and carpaccio) should be kept under effective temperature control or else we’re encouraging the growth of pathogenic bacteria. It’s a similar case with fish intended to be eaten cooked where they are needed to be chilled or frozen promptly after catching. Although cooking kills bacteria and parasites, the lack of temperature control during storage and transport will spoil the fish way before it’s cooked.
Aside from temperature control, the tanks, containers and even the ice should be clean and safe. For instance, the ice that is in direct contact with the stored seafood should be made from potable water. The freezers and storage areas should also be clean to prevent dirt and microbial contamination.
Transport has a huge role in minimising financial losses due to contamination. Apart from that, prompt and proper transport also minimises financial losses by increasing the survival rates of fish and seafood. For example, there’s an ideal temperature range (16℃ to 20℃) in achieving the highest survival rate when it comes to transporting Mud Crabs. In addition, temperature control in this manner can help drive the costs low for the consumers and thereby help local businesses to thrive and stay competitive.
Those are just some of the ways how transport affects the fisheries and aquaculture industry. Production, transport and distribution each plays a huge role in keeping the quality, safety and costs of seafood products. But when it comes to transport and distribution, there are a lot of opportunities for losses and contamination, which is why high standards are being maintained in the transport and storage of seafood.