Government support for seafood industry

South Australia's seafood industries have welcomed support announced by the federal government which includes securing air freight into international markets and waiving levies for the remainder of 2020.

The government announced on Wednesday a new $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism which will assist the agriculture and fisheries sectors to export their produce into key international markets, with return flights bringing back medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

On top of this about $10 million in Australian Fisheries Management Authority levies will be waived for all Commonwealth fishers for the remainder of 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the initiative would help restore key freight routes for farmers and producers until commercial capacity could be restored.

"We are doing everything possible to help our high-value agricultural and fisheries exporters get their produce on airplanes and into overseas markets," he said.

The Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association has welcomed the news as the tuna industry had expressed concerns about the lack of air freight to key markets including Japan and China, especially with avenues into the domestic market being closed off.

Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said the government's announcement was "warmly welcomed" and it was up to the different seafood industries to work together to benefit from this.

"There's every reason why this should be successful and every reason why it will assist the recovery of the industry," he said.

"It will depend on how well the different fisheries cooperate with each other."

The Southern Australian Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association has also welcomed this announcement, following the lobster industry's heavy impact on losing the Chinese market at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The association's executive officer Kyri Toumazos said any logistical support provided while the industry was trying to reestablish the market was welcomed.

He said the seafood sector was looking to cooperate, including with other primary producers to advocate for freight options from Adelaide as currently freight would go through the east or west coasts.

"The seafood sector is coordinating a combined approach to try and expand freight options to be inclusive of Adelaide," he said.

The state government has also announced its own support for exporters with the creation of the Export Recovery Taskforce.

Trade and Investment Minister David Ridgway said the taskforce would work to identify impacts across export sectors and coordinate government intervention and support for affected businesses.

The taskforce has representatives from key freight entities, including Kane Williams (Abalone Association) and Peter Fare (Australian Fishing Enterprises).

"The Taskforce will work to identify possible policy and program responses to help address the economic effect of the COVID-19," Mr Ridgway said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for exporters, and we are working to minimise disruption to these critical industries."