A piece of bettered fish on a plate alongside hot chips

Scale of supply problems laid bare amid warnings fresh fish could ‘end up in the gourmet section’

Fresh Australian fish may not be on the menu in more households if prices continue to rise and supply continues to fall, according to the peak body representing Western Australia’s seafood industry.

WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive Darryl Hockey said demand for some iconic WA fish such as pink snapper and dhufish is outstripping supply.

“Anyone who is a regular consumer of fish can see that over the last six months or so prices in particular have gone up quite significantly,” he said.

“It’s not because [fishers] charge more for fish, it’s because there’s a growing demand from restaurants, fish and chips and fresh fish shops to try and get the quantities they need.

Darryl Hockey, Chief Executive of the WA Fishing Industry Council.(ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

Australia currently imports 70% of seafood consumed nationally, but Mr Hockey said the industry has noticed a shift in consumer behavior towards buying more locally caught seafood.

“Since COVID has arrived and people are walking around there, it’s become a bit of a dining experience that you go to a particular area and want to see some of the local produce, whether it’s wine, produce agricultural or fish,” he said.

“That loyalty to WA products has increased, and that’s a very healthy thing.

“But our concern is that our industry will not be able to provide the same food at the same price as we have in the past, which means that consumers in Western Australia are being deprived of it.

A woman stands looking sadly at the camera near a sign for her fish shop
Laura Hooton will close the Jurien fish shop at the end of June.(Provided: Laura Hooton)

The fresh fish store closes

Despite increased demand and domestic travellers, at the end of this month the only fresh fish shop along a 300 kilometer section of the coast between Perth and Dongara will close.

Laura Hooton said she made the decision to close due to rising fish prices and the difficulty of finding a reliable supply of fish to sell.

“The demand for fish to supply the Perth market is driving up costs,” she said.

“We have to compete with much higher prices; this pushes the price of fish too high for the general public.

“Four months ago I could sell filleted pink snapper for $62 a kilo, now I’m down to the $70 a kilo range.

“It’s pretty sad that you come to a coastal town and you can’t access fresh fish.”

Job , updated

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