Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has called for government assistance to keep the industry afloat.
“We take our responsibility to provide more than one billion meals every year seriously, particularly at times like these, and we need government assistance to keep fish on the table,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.
“Since mid-January (2020) SIA has been working hard with all levels of government to ensure our industry receives the support it needs.
“We’ve asked all governments across Australia to help us through the next 6-12 months by removing all fees and charges across all of agriculture – not just the seafood industry. We need to secure Australia’s agriculture industry now, so we’re here to continue operating on the other side of this.
“Globally, some markets are beginning to reopen and we need the certainty of freight to be able to access them. Getting back to work is the best sort of stimulus, it’s good for morale and it shows we understand our role in meeting the global food task. We are working with Seafood Trade Advisory Group (STAG), industry associations, seafood businesses across Australia and the Federal Government on ways to provide some certainty of supply.
“We are also extending calls for calm among panic buyers. Our fishing vessels need to be restocked so they can go fishing, and this means we need more than two bags of frozen vegetables and two packets of pasta, and they certainly need some toilet paper. Some of our larger vessels have arrangements in place, but the rest of the industry shops at their local supermarket, just like you and me.
“We need to find a way for our bona fide primary producers to access the supplies they need, so our fishers can continue harvesting and growing the food we all need.
“The Australian seafood industry plays a critical role in the global food task, and we want to get back to work. We are confident we can continue to work with our governments on the logistics of the various lockdowns, and that the food supply chain will be recognised as an essential service.”