Lobster industry options floated

Andrew Lawrie And Nick Mcbrideweb TBW Newsgroup
EXPORT CHALLENGE: Member for MacKillop Nick McBride (right) and major Southern Rock Lobster exporter Sky Seafoods proprietor Andrew Lawrie discuss ways to support the Southern Rock Lobster industry from further impacts of the coronavirus.

QUOTA roll-overs and extending the season length of the region’s Southern Rock Lobster fishery was canvassed at a recent closed door meeting with state and federal parliamentarians this week.

The $300m industry has stalled as a result of export being halted to China as a result of the coronavirus, with boats across the Limestone Coast staying in port as fishers await the market to revive.

Earlier this week, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride chaired a meeting with eight processor businesses to discuss methods to support the industry to emerge from the domestic and export market impacts of COVID-19.

The latest roundtable follows a meeting held in February with fishers and processors, chaired by Mr McBride and attended by Trade Minister David Ridgway.

Mr McBride said exporters supported rolling over uncaught quota for the fishing sector, saying it had the potential to encourage fishers to catch during a potentially lucrative period for the international market.

“Rolling over the quota each year could encourage fishers to catch in May, which is the first month of spring in China and the country’s wedding season,” he said.

“The industry could meet the market demand outside of the months it currently focuses on and fishers and processors will get a higher price for their product.”

While the Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China, Mr McBride said another proposal was to open the season in September to capitalise on the country’s other major traditional events, including the Mid-Autumn Festival held in October.

He hoped a follow up meeting will be held in April to progress a collaborative approach with fishers and exporters.

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