PIRSA chief executive officer pays visit to Eyre Peninsula

MEET UP: Meeting together at the Marine Science Centre in Port Lincoln are Nicole Hancock, Gary Morgan, Kyri Toumazos, Claire Webber, Michelle Edge (PIRSA), Thomas McNab and Gavin Begg (PIRSA).
MEET UP: Meeting together at the Marine Science Centre in Port Lincoln are Nicole Hancock, Gary Morgan, Kyri Toumazos, Claire Webber, Michelle Edge (PIRSA), Thomas McNab and Gavin Begg (PIRSA).

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has reached out to help seafood industries on Eyre Peninsula overcome existing hurdles as they move into the new year.

PIRSA chief executive officer Michelle Edge visited Port Lincoln on Monday and met with representatives from industries including tuna, kingfish, abalone, rock lobster and marine scale fishing at the Lincoln Marine Science Centre to discuss recent challenges and upcoming opportunities for development.

Mrs Edge said some of the challenges she had heard from representatives included issues stemming from COVID-19, trade issues, freight availability and worker shortages, as well as the closure of restaurants and food businesses on the Australian east coast and internationally who had been consistent customers.

However she said she believed businesses on Eyre Peninsula had shown their resilience and were moving to better outcomes in the new year.

"I think businesses here are extremely agile and resilient in the face of challenges and that agility will assist them in moving to better outcomes in 2022 and onwards," she said.

"They've had to make unprecedented changes to their business models and that adaptability will also serve them well."

Mrs Edge said PIRSA would reach out to support businesses through their COVID-related challenges, inform on grant programs and work with the industry on regulatory reforms and strategic plans.

One section of the industry which is navigating its own challenges is the state's marine scalefish fishery, which has navigated an extensive reform process which included a government buyback of about 90 licences.

Marine Fishers Association executive officer Gary Morgan said there were many challenges the fishery faced moving forward in an effort to be profitable, one of which included the current licence fees.

"Licence fees in the marine scalefish fishery now are the highest in Australia, 14 per cent of a fisherman's earnings," he said.

"How can fishermen be profitable when they're paying 14 per cent of their earnings towards licence fees?"

Mr Morgan said other issues with profitability included the size of quota licence holders ended up with after the reform process and the need to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks through clear catch data from the recreational sector, as well as the commercial sector.

He said with the fishery celebrating its 185th anniversary this year, it was important to ensure its health and sustainability as it continued to benefit the state as a whole.

Meanwhile the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association is looking forward to "exceptional catches" from the new season, which started on November 1, however it was hoping for local trade over the Christmas period with ongoing trade disturbance in China.

Association chief executive officer Kyri Toumazos said fishers were going out to meet the 296 tonne quota for this season, with a 45 tonne carry over from the previous season.

"We thank PIRSA for making this management arrangement possible," he said.

Mr Toumazos said the association was hopeful of strong sales over the Christmas period.

"We're hoping to see a very strong local trade so prices can be stabilised somewhat so we can have economic sustainability," he said.

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