A fabulous February for fishermen
SMILES are returning to the faces of ocean and river trawler operators after a bumper February, a month in which Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-operative processes and sold a whopping 81 tonnes of cooked and green school prawns.
Including catches not to have gone through the co-op, more than 100 tonnes of schoolies were landed in the ocean and the river in February.
Even retail prices as low as $5 per kilo have not dampened the jubilance of some fishermen who, after the worst season on record, are just happy to get paid.
Donald ‘Duck’ Anderson, who operates his ocean trawler L Margo out of Yamba, said conditions had been good since the January flood, when compared to to last season’s fair ocean schoolie catches.
“The floods wash the school prawns out to sea and now the schoolies are right up and down the coast ... but that could all change soon,” he said.
Mr Anderson said the current prawn glut had driven prices down.
“The co-op has to compete with Ballina and Coffs Harbour and everybody is catching prawns,” he said.
Maclean-based river trawler operator Alan ‘Fatty’ Ford said this season had been an enormous turnaround after last season.
“Its 10,000% better than last year, at least we are getting a pay now. I didn’t get a pay at all last season,” he said.
Because of the plentiful quantity of large ocean schoolies being caught, Mr Ford said prices of school prawns had been low.
“Because that’s the way it has been that stuffs the market up for the river prawns,” he said.
“That’s why the river guys selling to the co-op are on quotas of 100 kilos per-day.”
With the river water clearing yesterday, Mr Ford predicted catches would reduce.
“We don’t want another flood, but a couple of storms would be nice,” he said.
Co-op general manager John Robson said fishermen were happy with recent catches after the disappointment of 2010.
Because of the quantities of prawns being caught, Mr Robson said river trawlers were limited to a quota of 100kg per day of green schoolies through the co-op and ocean trawlers 400kg per day of cooked schoolies.
He said 43 tonnes of green school prawns and 38 tonnes of cooked school prawns had passed through the co-op last month.