David Caracciolo from Mackay Reef Fish Supplies said he has been working with his producers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
David Caracciolo from Mackay Reef Fish Supplies said he has been working with his producers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Uncertainty about fishing industry lifeline

MILLIONS of dollars have been committed to save the seafood industry after travel bans brought global exportation to a grinding halt.

Mackay Fish Market owner David Caracciolo exports live mudcrabs and other perishables to Asia.

He said exporting had turned into a "nightmare" with freight arrangements he could normally organise in a single call were taking almost a week to finalise and could still be cancelled without much notice amid the global pandemic.

A $110 million airfreight support package serving the agriculture and seafood export sectors is pegged to secure production jobs, as well as jobs in processing, freight and beyond.

Seafood Industry Australia CEO Jane Lovell said the assistance would help the seafood industry restart global exports.

"For the Aussie seafood businesses who have effectively been without an income for nine

weeks, for their employees, and for their families this marks the beginning of a return to

normal," Ms Lovell said.

"There's no better stimulus than getting back to work."

Mr Caracciolo said fishers did not know enough about the plan that was centred around exporting high-value produce.

"We don't know all the details of the freight or how it is going to work," he said.

"We have not been given all the details, I don't think they have the details yet.

"In these times I think everyone is scrambling to try get something happening so before they have the logistics worked out, the plans come into place and they've announced it and they're gauging interest."

It is expected valuable produce like lobster, coral trout and abalone as well as premium meat, dairy and other produce would be prioritised for the airfreight flights that will return to Australia carrying vital medical supplies and equipment critical to the ongoing health response.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will begin with exports to

key markets China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE, and may be expanded in the future.