Australia to accept Icelandic farmed salmon imports

Permit "a long time in the making" says Icelandic food agency, but Iceland's farmed salmon now meets Australia's strict biosecurity rules.
Icelandic farmed salmon is accepted for import by Australia for the first time. Photo: Adobe Stock.
Icelandic farmed salmon is accepted for import by Australia for the first time. Photo: Adobe Stock.

The Australian market has at last opened to Icelandic farmed salmon, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has announced.

Australian authorities have recently informed MAST that Iceland now fulfills the stringent conditions applying to salmon products exported to Australia.

According to the Icelandic food agency, the permit "has been a long time in the making," but at last "the Australian authorities have made an assessment of the disease status of farmed fish (salmon) and subsequently authorized the import of aquaculture products from Iceland to Australia if certain requirements are met."

MAST held an information session on September 13 to inform producers about the new trade opportunity and the conditions required to take advantage of it.

Amongst the rules is the condition for the Icelandic government to monitor disease outbreaks on farms, and rapidly notify the Australian authorities of infractions.

Australia's biosecurity rules strict, but Icelandic salmon deemed safe

Australia has some of the strictest biosecurity regulations worldwide, introducing further restrictions on the import of salmon and salmonid products from approved countries, excluding New Zealand, in 2019.

The further restrictions particularly relate to the import of salmon that is intended to undergo further processing after importation to Australia, which must remain under biosecurity control until being "transformed into a consumer ready form".

Currently, under the 2019 rules, "consumer-ready" salmon products from approved countries, including fillets of any weight, do not need to be held in biosecurity control.

Opportunity for Iceland to take a bite of Antipodean seafood market

It is as yet unknown how many Icelandic producers will take up the opportunity offered by the Australian authorities. However, figures suggest that it may be worth their while, despite air freight costs and logistical challenges due to the enormous distance between the two countries.

One of Iceland's neighbours is already a key seafood trade partner with Australia. Norway is among Australia's top sources of imported seafood, particularly farmed salmon. According to the Australia's Department of Agriculture, an estimated 62% of the edible seafood Australians consume (by weight) is imported, mainly from Asia, followed by New Zealand and Norway. In 2021, Norway exported $32.8M worth of fish fillets to Australia, according to OEC figures.

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