Profitable New Year for fishermen
COFFS Harbour’s dependency on seafood has been proven this summer with the fisherman’s co-operative reporting its most profitable New Year.
The big haul over the scales for professional fishers is a good start to a ‘make-or-break-year’ for the local seafood industry.
With the State Parliament in recess until the March election, it appears unlikely the draft Solitary Island Marine Park review will be introduced, as it stands, in coming months.
Released last year the draft policy proposes a ban on prawn trawling in the marine park.
Professional fishers like Kane Ward say they’ve faced an uncertain future, waiting to see if they can continue netting directly off the coast of Coffs Harbour.
“We just keep fishing regardless, but it’d be good to know,” Kane said.
“It’s been a good season, though. I’ve never seen king prawn prices so high in Sydney, they’re usually around $30 a kilo, but this year $47 a kilo at Christmas.”
Prices have reportedly skyrocketed because flooded-in Queensland prawn suppliers have been unable to get their catch to market.
Co-op seafood manager Shane Geary said a bulk of the local king prawn harvest has come from within the marine park fishing zones.
“We are hoping commonsense prevails in politics, and our trawlers are not banned from the marine park.
“It’s been our busiest New Year ever, with profits up 30 per cent,” Mr Geary said.
“I’d also say the most plentiful lobster catches I’ve seen in my 20 years here, which is a good sign of a sustainable fishery.
“Along with the State Government’s marine park review we are also facing the Federal Government Marine Reserve proposals in Commonwealth waters, so it’s going to be an important year for commercial fishing,” he said.