Technology turns the tide for first online fish auction

Australia’s first online fish auction will be held next month, funded by the successful Farming Together program.

Disruptive technology that cuts out several layers of handling will see fish going direct from boat to market.

Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative is launching the new model as a pilot, backed by funding from the Australian Government-backed Farming Together program. It is destined for wider roll-out among other fishing co-ops in late June and will ultimately become the Australian online seafood auction.

Co-op general manager Andrew Mitchell said: “The customer will also know exactly where, when, and how their fish was caught.

“And what they see on the label will mean exactly what type of fish they are getting. It will be guaranteed Australian fish, caught by Australians. And it means far-fewer food miles.”

The award-winning co-op, established in the mid-1940s, is owned by 45 local fishers. It employs about 45 employees.  Last financial year the co-op handled about 564 tonnes of fish and crustaceans. Of this, about 70% was sold through the Sydney Fish Market, with the remainder sold locally through the co-op store or local retailers.

Dr Mitchell said the new technology will give professional fishermen greater control of the supply chain, and customers greater confidence in their food provenance.

“Fish is a perishable product that needs streamlined distribution,” he said. “Modern consumers expect the best of systems to ensure quality and freshness. ­­

”We can reduce food miles and the distribution time between catch and consumption. This smart technology is being used globally. It allows buyers to purchase directly, which reduces haulage, on-selling, time-lag and associated costs such as refrigeration and fuel.”

The first auction, overseen by technology firm FreshBids, is scheduled for June 15.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said: “We are proud to be supporting this initiative from this forward-thinking co-op. The fishing industry internationally is adopting this technology. It will be a first for Australia; streamlining the marketing of fresh seafood in a timely and efficient manner.”

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