Call to ban prawn imports


THE loss of trawler operators from the Clarence Valley would be a 'devastating' loss to the area, according to Yamba Chamber of Commerce president Sue Hughes.

Responding to yesterday's Daily Examiner front page article, Ms Hughes said the local fishing industry was vital and the threat to its survival could have longranging consequences.

"Fishing is such a vital part of the Lower River, that to see fishermen struggling and potentially going out of business is devastating for them, their families and the Valley," she said.

Ms Hughes said no-one wanted to see the fishing industry decimated, and suggested a ban on imported products would help.

"I think what this shows is the importance of buying local products," she said.

"Maybe we could place sanctions on imported produce, or ensure that when we go to purchase prawns, we, as locals, only buy wild-caught prawns and not imported ones."

Clarence Valley Council economic development executive manager George Cowan said while he believed it was important operators were not left out in the cold, council was already doing everything it could to help them.

"The local prawn and fishing industry is a valuable part of the local economy and we would do anything within our power to support it," he said.

"The limit of what we can do, is promote the local product and support them and we're doing that and I would encourage any of the local outlets to promote the local products rather than the imported ones."

Mr Cowan said while it was a concern, the cyclic nature of the industry made it hard to determine just how serious the issue was.

"One of the things that is a feature of primary industries is that those industries are cyclic," he said.

"You go through periods where the combination of cost factors and market factors will force some of the marginal operators out of a particular industry.

"It's an issue up and down the coast, it's not peculiar to the Clarence and we are not really in a position to intervene in any way."

Yamba's Asif Takeaway manager Nicole Coulter said her store only sold wild-caught prawns.

"We don't sell any imported prawns whatsoever and I refuse to have them in the shop because it's our way of supporting our local industry," she said.

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