New Zealand to allow importation of salmon, trout and char for human consumption

26 August 1998

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced today that the importation into New Zealand of uncooked, headless, gilled and gutted salmon, trout and char for human consumption is to be permitted from certain countries. This decision is based on a thorough scientific evaluation of the potential health risks to fish and other aquatic animals of such products being allowed to enter New Zealand. The risk analysis was carried out by MAF Regulatory Authority, and prior to its public release seven international experts and two independent New Zealand experts reviewed and supported the risk analysis. A draft report was released by MAF for public consultation in September last year.

The risk analysis concluded that imports of headless, gilled and gutted salmon, trout and char (‘salmonids’) for human consumption should be allowed from countries with appropriate monitoring and inspection systems. The countries assessed in this regard were Australia, Canada, the European Union, Norway and the USA.

The risk analysis was advertised as available for public consultation and about 100 copies sent to interested parties, including the fish-farming industries and recreational fishing interests in New Zealand, and veterinary authorities in other countries.

The 18 submissions received during the consultation process were reviewed independently by a well-qualified fish health expert in the UK. MAF also reviewed the submissions to determine if new issues were raised which might change the conclusions of the risk analysis. Neither the independent review of submissions, nor MAF’s own analysis, suggested that the conclusions of the risk analysis should be changed. MAF has therefore decided that an import health standard will be issued for uncooked, headed, gilled and gutted salmonids for human consumption from specified countries.

In the case of salmon, this decision is a resumption of a trade that was suspended 15 years ago. Prior to 1983 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.

The Biosecurity Act 1993 requires that when considering importations of goods that might cause unwanted harm to animal health MAF should consider the likelihood of organisms being introduced, and the possible effects such organisms might have on people, the environment and the economy of New Zealand.

This risk analysis was initiated by MAF following a request from United States for market access to New Zealand for their wild salmon. However, the 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, because such imports present disease risks of a similar nature.

A brief background sheet is available here.


Media inquiries to:

Barry O’Neil, Chief Veterinary Officer, MAF Regulatory Authority, phone 04 474 4128, 021 470 582
Matthew Stone, National Adviser (International Animal Trade), MAF Regulatory Authority, 04 498 9884
Andrew Matheson, National Adviser SPS (Animals), 04 474 4219
Debbie Gee, Director, Corporate Communications 04 474 4258, 025 465 870



Last Updated: 09 September 2010

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