An airlift is under way to Canberra to satisfy a strong demand for fresh prawns on the Christmas dinner table - and the barbie.
And seafood merchants report their customers in the national capital have a definite preference for Australian prawns over frozen Asian imports.
As Christmas Day draws closer, seafood stores around the capital are preparing for a rush of customers.
The overwhelming popularity of seafood among Australians celebrating the holiday season has led to seafood stores extending trading hours to meet the demand.
Salmon, oysters and prawns are again in hot demand, but seafood retailers report increased sales of large sea urchins, pipis and Moreton Bay bugs.
Sashimi products are also growing in popularity, said Fishco Down Under manager Nicholetta Rigano.
''It's a new thing we see more and more of - it used to be only select Asian community stores but it's becoming more prevalent now,''' she said.
Chris Russell, managing director of Ocean Fresh Seafoods at the Fyshwick Markets, said Canberra buyers wanted Australian prawns rather than the imported frozen variety - and he said they could tell the difference.
''Canberrans only like local; they can pick a frozen prawn from a fresh prawn,'' he said.
The strong demand for the local product is driving the shuttle to Canberra airport.
''People are definitely wanting local prawns and lobster, particularly the green and large tiger prawns have been selling well and the large cooked tiger prawns, they come from Townsville and are being flown in,'' Mr Russell said.
''We've been having flights come in three or four times a day.
''People become so traditional on Christmas Day, that's why they want good local, fresh product.''
Mr Russell said container loads of frozen seafood were being imported into Australia from Asia.
''They do try to replicate the local product, but it's never the same,'' he said.
His store has taken 400 orders for collection on Christmas Eve.
''It looks like a good Christmas based upon our Christmas orders we've taken over the last four days,'' he said.
Ms Rigano said oysters, lobster and scallops were the items most likely to sell out.
''We'll run out of some of the smoked produce like the smoked trout and smoked salmon and sometimes we sell out of lobsters.''
Swordfish and marlin are desirable items for seasoned fish fanciers.
At Fishco Downunder, Crystal Bay and tiger prawns are outselling most other varieties, with salmon and flathead being the most sought-after varieties of fish. with Ross Peake