MAF Releases a Risk Analysis for Imports of Salmon and Trout for Human Consumption

31 October 1997

An analysis of the potential health risks to fish and other aquatic animals associated with allowing the importation of uncooked, gutted salmon, trout and char for human consumption into New Zealand has been released by the Ministry of Agriculture for public consultation. Submissions close 10 December 1997.

Prior to1983, New Zealand allowed importations of uncooked salmon for human consumption, but since then imports have had to be cooked. This requirement was introduced in response to concerns that such importations might introduce aquatic animal diseases.

In 1995, MAF decided to remove this restriction for headless, gutted, wild, ocean-caught salmon from Canada following a risk analysis.

The current risk analysis was initiated by MAF Regulatory Authority (MAFRA) following a request from United States for market access to New Zealand for their wild salmon. However, the risk analysis was made more general so it could serve as a decision making tool for market access requests for wild and farmed salmonid products from a range of countries.

The risk analysis concludes that continuing to prohibit wild Pacific salmon for human consumption from the USA is inappropriate, considering that the probability of introducing an aquatic animal disease through imports is unlikely to differ significantly from that for the importation of wild salmon from Canada.

As a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), New Zealand is committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement, which requires that trade restrictions put in place to protect animal health are scientifically justified. New Zealand is a country dependent on external trade and has a strong interest in applying and defending the SPS Agreement.

Given that international trading recommendations consider gutting the fish the only measure necessary to reduce the risk of disease transmission, the risk analysis provides a scientific justification for measures over and above gutting.

Various stakeholder groups, including the aquaculture and recreational fishing industries in New Zealand were consulted during the drafting of the analysis, and prior to its public release, six international experts and two independent New Zealand experts reviewed and supported the risk analysis.

The Biosecurity Act 1993 requires that when considering importations of risk goods MAF should consider the likelihood of unwanted organisms being introduced, as well as the possible effects of such an event on people, the environment and the economy of New Zealand.

For further details or a copy of the risk analysis contact:
Matthew Stone, National Adviser International Animal Trade, MAF Regulatory Authority
P O Box 2526, Wellington, ph (04) 498-9884
fax (04) 474-4133

There is a cost of $NZ20 to cover printing, postage and packaging. This is payable by cash, cheque (made out to MAF Regulatory Authority), postal money order or credit card.

A Media Backgrounder is available free of charge from:
Carol Christian, PA to Manager, Corporate Communications, (04) 498 9838



Last Updated: 09 September 2010

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