Originally published 17 December 2021
This article was updated to reflect changes in relation to the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA).

Australia-UK FTA opens new doors for Glacier 51 Toothfish exports

‘We are privileged to be the custodians of some of Australia’s most extraordinary fisheries resources.’ - David Carter, CEO, Austral Fisheries

David Carter’s story is a rich 40-year journey from deckhand to Austral Fisheries CEO. It is filled with industry-changing achievements that have resulted in the organisation’s high standing in the global fishing industry. 

It is a story about great products and the world’s highest certification of sustainability and management by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). As a steward of the ocean and the environment, Austral Fisheries represents 71% of the entire Australian toothfish industry. It also represents 40% of Australia's Northern Prawn Fishery – the country's largest. 

Free Trade Agreements deliver export sales

To date, Austral had exported only small quantities to the United Kingdom because of high tariffs making their export uncompetitive. With the historic signing of the Australia-UK FTA, that is about to change. 

Austral Fisheries’ General Manager Sales and Marketing, Dylan Skinns, says the company welcomes the reduction in tariffs under the new FTA. The reduction would allow Austral Fisheries to meet pent-up demand from the UK for ‘value-add’ Australian seafood. This would create jobs to support increased production.  

‘Many seafood importers and wholesalers based in the UK have reached out to Austral Fisheries over the past 10 years to supply our MSC-certified products,’ Skinns says. 

‘But the negotiations of possible supply faded once the importer or buyer calculated the tariffs that were being applied to imported Australian seafood. For too long, this trade barrier was too big a hurdle for UK importers to jump and made it really hard to trade our unique MSC-certified products.’

Southern ocean waves Austral Fisheries Southern ocean waves, Austral Fisheries

Australian Government offers export support

Austral Fisheries’ General Manager of Quality, Safety and People, Lesley Leyland, says the company had also sought Australian Government support for other aspects of exporting. 

The Patagonian Toothfish is a protected species and is quite complex to export. It needs to be fully traceable and documented. Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Australian Government were instrumental in supporting Austral Fisheries to diversify and grow its markets. 

‘The Australian Government really helped us,’ Leyland says. ‘The whole process was very, very smooth. For us it was so important to make sure it went well. As leaders in this space, it is really important to be doing the right thing.’

Patagonian Toothfish, finished dish Patagonian Toothfish, finished dish

Ensuring traceability and sustainability

Austral Fisheries developed a state-of-the-art open supply chain platform to trace the fish from the minute it is caught to the moment it reaches the consumer. The company had assistance from Boston Consulting Group and the World Wildlife Fund. 

Powered by blockchain technology, the OpenSC platform is the latest path in Austral Fisheries’ sustainability journey. Consumers can trace their product’s supply chain by scanning a QR code with their phone. A compatible product displays information regarding the product’s source, how it moved along the supply chain, and the measures in place to ensure it is sustainable. 

As part of that sustainability commitment, in 2016 Austral Fisheries became the first seafood business in the world to be certified as carbon neutral. The company offsets emissions by planting more than 220,000 trees every year in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, 4 hours north of Perth, Western Australia. 

The Austral Fisheries’ attributes of high-quality products produced to look after the environment and fished to a managed quota system, will add real value to both the UK and Australian markets. 

This is particularly so given the UK is rated No.1 in the world for its use of the Marine Stewardship Council logo. This is the big blue tick on all Austral Fisheries’ premium, wild-caught brands of Glacier 51 ToothfishSkull Island Tiger Prawns and Karumba Banana Prawns

‘The FTA signing means we are absolutely delighted to bring a great addition to UK supermarkets,’ says Skinns. ‘Its Michelin and five- and six-star dining facilities and above all its consumers are seeking some of the best and more sustainable seafood options in the world.’ 

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