Fish flights offer life raft to Bowen fishermen
FLIGHTS exporting live seafood from Cairns to Hong Kong could be the life raft many fishermen in Far North Queensland have been hoping for.
Qantas has signed an agreement to operate a weekly Boeing A330 from Brisbane to Cairns to Hong Kong packed with about 45 tonnes of local seafood, with the first flight set to depart today.
After the closure of borders and cancellation of live exports earlier in the year, this agreement will mean the seafood industry have security that they will be able to sell their fish on.
Bowen Fishermans Seafood's owner Brett Bauer said after months without being able to fish, the local hauls had been plentiful but with no way to send them abroad, they were not getting the money they once would have.
"The boats have been having good catch rates at the moment with less fisherman out there," he said.
"Prices aren't good at the moment because there's too much fish and no way to get them anywhere.
"Fishers are still having trouble getting buyers because they say they can't get them out of the country, and if you can't get it to the market, you don't get anything."
China and Hong Kong are some of the coral trout industries biggest buyers and the addition of more international flights was "going to make a big difference", Mr Bauer said
"The fish are there, the big thing is moving them. That's been the biggest hold up," he said.
"Any big quantities, getting them anywhere is really difficult."
Mr Bauer raised concerns that with so little flights it could still allow buyers to manipulate their monopoly of the market, but added that any additional flights would still be of help.
"It'll be good if it comes off, what the expense will be I don't know, if they have a monopoly of the market they can sometimes charge what they want," he said.
"This will definitely be a big help though, it's going to make a big difference."