SEAFOOD CITY: Mia and Matthew Mann, both 7, of Berry Park, with their grandmother, Pamela Mann in the Christmas seafood rush at the Newcastle Fisherman’s Co-op, Wickham. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTWO thousand people are expected through the doors of the Newcastle Fisherman’s Co-op on Christmas Eve, racking upaprojected $250,000 in seafood sales by close of business at 2pm.
As well as walk-ins, a team of 15 staff have worked long-hours to ensure a list of 500 orders are packed and ready to go clued-in customers who planned ahead.
And it’s all about the prawns, says the co-op’sgeneral manager,Robert Gauta.
“We‘ve got fresh farmed tiger prawns from Queensland, green prawns from South Australia, and South Australian cooked king prawns. They are all Australian products.
“Salmon is also flying out the door. It’s quite busy.
“Wehope we have enough supplies to get us through to 2pm on Thursday, so thereshould beno drama with customers coming through to get fresh product.’’
There is plenty of local seafood in the mix, including crabs from Port Stephens, Mr Gauta said.
And while the Hunter River was not being fished due to the Williamtown contamination scandal,it was hoped that the boats going out on Thursday morning come back with a big haul of prawns from just off Newcastle.
Usually Hunter River fisherman supply an estimated five to 10 per cent of the co-op’sprawnsupply, Mr Gauta said, but management has sourced seafood from further afield to compensate this year.
Prawn fisherman have placed an indefinite self-imposed ban on prawn trawling in the Hunter River aftersamples of prawns showed elevated levels of chemical compounds found in firefighting foam used at the WilliamtownRAAF Base.
“We have more farmed prawns than we would normally get,’’ Mr Gautasaid.
“Ultimately it’sthe fishers who are hurting and we feel for them butunfortunately that is the way it is.
“We’ve done our best to mitigate that by sourcing other stuff.’’
The co-op is open until 5pm on Wednesday and from 5am to 2pm on Thursday, and will not open again until Tuesday.
“We would have normally opened on Sunday,’’ Mr Gauta said.
“But rather than disappoint people by opening a shop with little stock, we are closing until Tuesday.”