Struggling commercial fishers in Australia offered levy deferrals as global pandemic rages on

Published on
March 26, 2020

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is allowing levy deferrals in response to the ongoing impact that the global COVID-19 pandemic is having on the country’s seafood industry, according to a 26 March press release from Seafood Industry Australia (SIA).

Concession holders experiencing financial hardship abetted by COVID-19 will have the option to defer the next installment of their levies, which would typically fall due between 1 April, 2020, until 15 June, 2020, AFMA confirmed in its own statement. Commercial fishers who wish to defer their second levy installment must fill out an application by 31 March, 2020, AFMA confirmed.  

SIA has been seeking government assistance to help it through the crisis resulting from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. SIA CEO Jane Lovell said the allowance offers some much-needed relief to Australia’s commercial fishing community, which has been “feeling the financial brunt of this pandemic since January.”

“We called on all governments across Australia to help us through the next six to 12 months by removing all fees and charges across all of agriculture – not just the seafood industry – and we are pleased AFMA has announced this deferral,” Lovell said. “With very little to no income trickling through for industry, asking us to pay these significant management fees is a near impossible task.”

Moving forward, SIA said it welcomes similar announcements from Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia. In addition to thanking AFMA, Lovell also expressed gratitude on behalf of SIA for the New South Wales government, which “announced earlier this month that commercial fishers who were affected by the bushfires, floods, or now the coronavirus were able to apply to have their second installment of management charges waived.”

“Our industry, like so many others, is doing it though and we appreciate those giving us a hand to ensure we’re here operating on the other side of this,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Hani/Shutterstock

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