Rock lobster quotas changed to boost seafood sector

Rock lobster quotas changed to boost seafood sector

Coronavirus
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QUOTA limits for rock lobsters will shift to help protect the industry during the coronavirus outbreak.

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QUOTA limits for rock lobsters will shift to help protect the industry during the coronavirus outbreak.

Uncaught quota will be able to be carried across to the next season for the Southern Zone fishers and the next two fishing seasons for the Northern Zone fishers.

In addition, the winter closure period will be lifted for the Northern Zone Inner Region for 2020.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the changes had been made after requests from the industry and the measures would help provide certainty to those fishers during these exceptional circumstances.

"The market disruption of the coronavirus outbreak has been significant on the South Australian Rock Lobster Fishery as the majority of rock lobster caught in the state is usually exported to China," he said.

"These exports have been significantly disrupted since 24 January.

"The carryover of uncaught quotas will provide the opportunity for fishers to recoup financial losses in the future, when the export market demand is re-established.

"The lifting of the winter closure in the Northern Zone will allow fishers more time to catch their quota."

Mr Whetstone said the market disruption could result in $23 million lost from the SA economy for this financial year along.

"State-wide, the rock lobster fishery supports around 1500 full time equivalent jobs and contributes more than $195m dollars to the state's economy," he said.

"We are using the best available scientific information to ensure quota carryover will not adversely impact the sustainability of SA rock lobster."

The Rock Lobster Fishery Management Advisory Committee, which includes industry, scientists and fisheries managers, developed this response plan to assist fishers to mitigate the impact of market disruption, and minimise economic losses to the industry and their regional communities.

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South Australia's Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association executive officer Kyri Toumazos said ithe ndustry wholeheartedly supported carryover of quota and the lifting of the winter fishing closure.

"Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus, our commercial rock lobster fishers have been heavily impacted, and this announcement helps," he said.

"Our fishers will again be able to make decisions about when is best to fish for their business. This regulatory change will provide certainty to the fishers without jeopardising sustainability.

The South Eastern Professional Fishermen's Association executive officer Nathan Kimber said he also supported the new measures.

"The disruption to our market in China and in more recent times to the domestic market as a result of the coronavirus has caused our industry considerable distress," he said.

"During one of the busiest times of the year, our orders dried up overnight.

"These new measures provide the fishers with a level of flexibility and certainty and will enable them to clearly assess a way forward for themselves and their families."

The Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery is important for south east towns like Beachport, Robe, Kingston, Southend, Carpenter Rocks, Blackfellows Caves and Port MacDonnell.

Important communities for the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery include Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island and Pondalowie on Yorke Peninsula.

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