The owner of GBR Tuna Bob Lamason
The owner of GBR Tuna Bob Lamason

Emergency flights could take Far North seafood into Asia

SEAFOOD exporters in the Far North are waiting to see whether they will be able to benefit from emergency flights to send fresh produce to foreign markets.

To help Australian farmers and fishers under economic pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government will spend $110 million on flights to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Commercial fisheries fees of $10 million will also be waived, with a further $50 million added to a grants program to reimburse exporters for marketing costs.

The emergency flights, however, will only be departing export hubs in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

 

MG Kalis Tropical Rock Lobster general manager Brett Arlidge with tropical rock lobsters. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
MG Kalis Tropical Rock Lobster general manager Brett Arlidge with tropical rock lobsters. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who was interviewed on 4CA Cairns yesterday morning, told radio host John McKenzie the Morrison Government would be supporting "aggregation points such as Cairns".

"There will be assistance to make sure that we can get goods from Cairns to Brisbane, where we get sufficient quantities of freight to get on the plane, whether it's to Japan or China or Singapore or Dubai," he said.

"We're looking not just at the China market but we've got to make sure we can get the freight consolidated at some key hubs around the country and do so in sufficient volume that we can get it out to those international hubs."

 

The owner of GBR Tuna Bob Lamason is hoping for another export flight to Japan to enable him to export tuna.
The owner of GBR Tuna Bob Lamason is hoping for another export flight to Japan to enable him to export tuna.

Great Barrier Reef Tuna owner Bob Lamason's three mackerel fishing trawlers have remained docked in Cairns for several weeks, like most local seafood exporters, unable to provide fish to South-East Asia due to travel restrictions.

Mr Lamason hoped there may be another emergency flight in the near future from Cairns, to help him send tuna to Japan.

"Our wholesale business has come to a halt, but we're virtually not doing anything, other than trying to keep our retail (store) open," he said.

"I'm going fishing tomorrow just to get a bit of fish for customers for Easter, and that's about it.

"We're still getting a reasonable amount of customers through the shop.

"It's not brilliant, but it's not bad."

Export Council of Australia chairwoman Dianne Tipping suggested the new Cairns International Airport's agricultural export hub would be perfectly placed to assist with the emergency flights.

"It's too early to know how this will all work, but I think the hub of Cairns should be going out to the community and finding out if everyone is interested in this," she said.


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