HELP NEEDED: The mud crab industry is feeling the impact of the coronavirus.
HELP NEEDED: The mud crab industry is feeling the impact of the coronavirus.

‘Half your profits gone’: Virus’s blow to fish market

THE impacts of the Coronavirus have been a blow to commercial fishers who rely on Chinese tourism.

Gladstone mud crab fisher Allan Holland, who sells to Sydney and Melbourne, said prices were predicted to drop by up to $10 per kilo in coming weeks.

“After the cost of catching and sending your crab … you’re talking half your profits gone,” Mr Holland said.

Yesterday Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced a $660,000 relief package to assist commercial fishers ­affected by the virus.

“The impact of COVID-19 was felt particularly strongly around Chinese New Year, which is normally a huge export opportunity for Queensland seafood,” Ms Trad said.

“So we’re waiving quota fees for rock lobster and coral trout for the first six months of 2020, along with fishing boat fees for these and other fisheries affected by COVID-19, such as mud crabs.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Queensland jobs had been at the “front and centre” of the response to the Coronavirus.

“Discussions with the industry are continuing and I am hopeful we can announce further support over coming weeks,” Mr Furner said.

LNP Fisheries shadow minister Tony Perrett called on people to buy Queensland seafood.

“Queensland has some of the best seafood in the world and commercial fishers and local businesses desperately need the support of the community,” Mr Perrett said.

Mr Holland said in the 30 years he had been fishing in Gladstone this was the worst economic blow he had seen in the tourism market.

“The Chinese market is such a massive tourism market,” he said.

“We really don’t know how you can fill that void.”