Angelo Vaxevani and Devi Lama at Nicholas Seafood at the Sydney Fish Market. 20th December 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett Photo: Janie Barrett By the time the market closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve, the six wet fish retailers will have served 100,000 customers around 700 tonnes of seafood. Photo: Janie Barrett
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Who needs a ham, when you can have a whole tuna for Christmas? Photo: Janie Barrett

Prawns for sale in the auction at the Sydney Fish Market in the busy week before Christmas. Photo: Janie Barrett

Rumour has it that prawns could cost up to $50 a kilogram this Christmas.

The talk, coupled with murmurs of a prawn shortage, follows a recent outbreak of white spot disease in prawn ponds south of Brisbane.

White spot disease, which was not previously known to be in , can stop prawns and crabs from growing but poses no risk to humans. The outbreak has sparked a temporary ban on prawn and crab fishing in the Logan River area, while the Prawn Farmers Association has labelled it a “national emergency”.

But the NSW Department of Primary Industries said shoppers can be assured the incident “will not affect availability of prawns for Christmas”.

“National response arrangements are in place…NSW has implemented an Importation Order prohibiting uncooked prawns from an area within 10km radius of the first infected premise on the Logan River,” a DPI spokesperson said.

Traders in NSW have also assured shoppers that prawns will be as abundant as ever.

“White spot shouldn’t affect us. They are trying to isolate it to the affected farm, and we’ve all ordered our prawns already,” said Angelo Vaxevani, retail manager for Nicholas Seafoods, at the Sydney Fish Market.

“We’re looking at selling for $24.99 to $36.99 a kilo, which is a couple of dollars down on last year. There has been better buying stock this year and a lot more product around … around 50 per cent more than last year,” he said.

From 5am on Friday, the fish market will open its doors for the 21st annual 36-hour seafood marathon.

By the time the market closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve, the six wet fish retailers will have served 100,000 customers about 700 tonnes of seafood; including 200 tonnes of prawns, 900,000 oysters and everything in between.

“Each year the favourite is always prawns,” Mr Vaxevani said.

“But what we are also seeing is other crustaceans becoming popular [at Christmas]; like lobster, scampi, bugs, clusters and Alaskan skin crab.”

Mr Vaxevani said the average customer spends about $70, but there is always “the odd customer who really likes their seafood,” and parts with about1500.

Sydney Fish Market general manager Bryan Skepper said, while the outbreak of white spot disease was a “tragedy”, Sydney would likely be unaffected.

“Longer term it could have a bit of an impact, but we are expecting really good supplies of prawns. Talking to the fisherman late last week, I’m told the phasing of the moon has been really good this year,” he said.”The fishing for prawns and a lot of seafood species is impacted by the season of tides, but prawns tend to get a better catch just after the full moon, and they’ve been getting good catches.”

Oysters, crabs, snapper and barramundi are also expected to be popular choices in the lead-up to Christmas, Mr Skepper said.

“But I wouldn’t leave it too late. We’ve had some years when people leave it to the last minute and they miss out. Give yourself time and don’t rush.”Traffic at the Pyrmont markets will be managed by police throughout the marathon, while extra parking will be available at Glebe Secondary College.

The light rail is also recommended for those who want to avoid heavy traffic, but shoppers who do so are reminded to “bring an esky”. Interact with us on Facebook – Savvy ConsumerLatest consumer news