Australia’s fisheries minister Ian Macdonald has called for Australians to eat more seafood to make up for the low overseas demand caused by the outbreak of the deadly flu-like virus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

Senator Macdonald said that vital Australian export income had been cut because the country’s valuable Asian markets have been hit by the outbreak of Sars, which has claimed more than 100 lives worldwide.

Many consumers in Hong Kong and other affected parts of Asia are choosing to stay at home rather than dine out, leading to a weakening in demand for Australian seafood.

Senator Macdonald called for Australians to make up the shortfall.

“Since the Sars outbreak became public, Australia’s seafood exports to Asia have declined significantly,” he was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press.

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“Now is the time for Australians to support world class, sustainable fishing and aquaculture industries by adding an extra seafood to their plans each week.

“Because of the quantities of seafood now available on the domestic market, pricing is now very competitive.”

Senator Macdonald added that many export orders had been cancelled because of the Sars outbreak.