Trawler owners welcome the prawn market's price reset

PRAWN trawler fishermen say predictions that king prawns could sell above $50 a kilo would mean a long overdue price reset, that's been many years coming.

Gone are the days of anyone getting a kilo of king prawns for a lobster ($20 a kilo), according to trawler owner and operator Darren Ward, a third generation ocean fisherman.

"Try buying a scotch fillet or a rib eye for $20 a kilo, it just doesn't happen anymore," Darren said.

"Judging by butcher's prices for sausages you'll pay $9 a kilo, if you want seafood for $9 a kilo you'll get sea mullet.

"King prawns and lobsters are the deluxe of seafood, the premium product and the prices must reflect that."

In Sydney, cooked tiger prawns will currently set you back about $45 a kilo - which is up $15 from this time last year, according to retailers.

"There is no shortage of prawn stocks that's for sure, it's been one of the better seasons in Queensland, in New South Wales the catches haven't been as good, but this year unlike others the prices have held up all year on good quality product.

"We are fetching massive orders from New South Wales, around the two to three tonne mark, and businesses are stocking up on king prawns now.

"Prawns have been so cheap for so long, people were paying $20 to $25 a kilo for king prawns back in 1986 when I moved to Coffs Harbour.

"Back then though we were paying 24 cents a litre for fuel ... and $200 a year for fishing licences and $1500 a year for the boat fishing licences.

"Nowadays we are paying $1.20 per litre for fuel and for me personally up to $30,000 in licensing between New South Wales and Queensland.

He said on any given night the average prawn trawler owner heading out to sea would spend between $600 to $700 in fuel to harvest a catch.

"Our expenses now compared with 30 years ago are staggering by comparison. The overheads have sent 70% of the industry packing," Darren said.

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