Trying to bait buyers

AN IMPORTANT visit to Clarence River Fishermen's Co-op in Maclean yesterday may lead to more international business for the local industry.

A group of Japanese businessmen flew to Australia to visit the Clarence Valley so they could tour the co-op's facilities and see for themselves the waters from which the co-op's produce is sourced.

The co-op's general manager, Danielle Adams, said the visit was extremely important from a business perspective.

"It's an opportunity for us to expand to other clients in Japan," Ms Adams said.

"At present, we are exporting product to China, Vietnam, Japan and Thailand; and today's visitors were another group of businessmen we are looking to get on board."

The six Japanese visitors currently import mainly whiting from the co-op but Ms Adams is hoping they will soon be buying school prawns as well.

The men were treated to local king prawns and seemed more than happy with the taste.

"International clients give us the opportunity to move volume product, so they're really important for the growth of the co-op" Ms Adams said.

"In the past six months, we've probably shifted anything up to 150 ton of produce."

Ms Adams said the majority of produce exported to overseas clients was whiting but she was hoping to start moving school prawns as well.

"Asians are very big on school prawns," she said.

"So with exporting the volumes (of schoolies) we're anticipating, Asia is a very important market."

Ms Adams said the most important thing she wanted her Japanese guests to take away from their visit to the Clarence was seeing the pristine conditions that local seafood was grown in.

"We're really hoping this visit will result in the exporting of school prawns," she said.

"The minute we start exporting school prawns to one client, it just opens doors."

Ms Adams said there was a great opportunity to expand the selling of seafood to overseas markets because until now there hadn't been a great deal of effort to do so.

"I really don't think the focus has been on that in the past," she said.

"Plus the fact that the co-op has always been run on a quota system. My goal is to not have the quota there."

Ms Adams said at least 80% of the co-op's whiting product was exported to clients such as the Shokuryu Company which visited the co-op yesterday.

She said until now, school prawns hadn't been a focus and none were being exported.

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