Regulations to hurt Australia seafood exports

Published on
March 21, 2014

New government regulations could have a devastating impact on South Australia’s seafood exports, which bring USD 250 million (EUR 181.2 million) into the state very year, commercial fishing groups say.

The Labor Government established “no take” sanctuary zones in the 19 marine parks in South Australia waters that will cause “some of the most viable fishing grounds — particularly for Southern Rock Lobster fishers — to be lost,” Justin Phillips, executive officer of the South Australian Rock Lobster Advisory council (SARLAC), told SeafoodSource.

“It will also mean reduced exports to international markets, which will not only be a major blow to the industry and regional economies, but also to the broader South Australian economy,” Phillips said. Australia already imports 70 percent of its seafood, and the figure will rise higher if the policy is implemented, according to Phillips.

“Considering the outstanding reputation SA has for seafood, it’s ridiculous to think that the vast majority of what South Australian consumers will be able to buy and eat in the future will be sourced from less sustainable foreign fisheries,” Phillips said.

However, the sanctuary zones, set to go into effect in October, could change if a new government is elected. The outcome of the 15 March state election will not be called until all postal votes are counted.

If the South Australian Liberal party wins the election — instead of the current Labor party — the policy could be reversed.

“The SA Liberal party has committed to review the current marine park sanctuary zones…to make a ‘threats-based determination’ regarding the need for establishment of any sanctuary or no-take zones. This is recognized as international best practice,” Phillips said.

Meanwhile, South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill recently said that government would provide an extra USD 4 million (EUR 2.9 million) in funding for marine park management, if the Labor party is re-elected. Weatherill is proposing increased funding for research partnerships and monitoring and surveying activities.

The proposed funding will not help any of South Australia’s commercial fisheries, according to Phillips. “It will go no way to offsetting the loss of sustainable, high-value fisheries production, much of which is exported product,” Phillips said.

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