Tonnes of seafood is on the menu for Christmas lunches and dinners across the Hunter again, with the region's major co-operative gearing up for one of its biggest days of the year.
The lead-up to Christmas sits alongside the Easter period as Newcastle Commercial Fishermen's Co-operative's busiest trading period - with lines snaking along the path outside the Wickham premises a common sight on Christmas Eve.
General manager Robert Gauta said the co-op was on track to have sold nine tonnes of prawns and 4000 dozen lots of oysters - 48,000 individual oysters - between last weekend and the close of Christmas Eve trade.
He said he hoped to sell about 1.5 tonnes of crustaceans other than prawns - seafood such as Balmain bugs, crabs and lobsters - and about one tonne of fresh fish.
Mr Gauta said he expected this year's trade to be in line with previous years - he was anticipating healthy trade without a noticeable boost.
"We won't count the dollars until the end of the day," he said.
"[Christmas seafood] has been popular for many, many years.
"From my own point of view, we're mainly coastal people and I think that makes a difference when you're looking at what product you're going to have for Christmas.
"You can't go past fresh local product. If you're buying fresh and local - you know it's fresh and you know it's sustainable."
Seafood Industry Australia CEO Jane Lovell said last month that Australians ate about 40 per cent of their annual prawn intake during the Christmas period.
"Gone are the days of the traditional roast, now a beautiful spread of fresh, local seafood has firmly cemented its place as the centrepiece for the quintessential Australian Christmas," she said.
The Herald reported earlier this year that the Wickham fish market sold about four tonnes of prawns and 18,000 oysters over the Easter period.
The co-op on Hannell Street is open from 5am until 2pm on Christmas Eve and is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
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