DOCKED: Trawlers at Iluka outside the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-Operative.
DOCKED: Trawlers at Iluka outside the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-Operative.

Why king prawns are cheaper than sausages

THE Lower Clarence is blessed with an abundance of seafood, but a shrinking market means the industry could be facing its toughest test yet.

The closure of thousands of businesses due to coronavirus has led to a crisis in the seafood industry as they battle huge oversupply which has sent prices through the floor.

That was highlighted this week when prices for king prawns were as low as $15 a kilo in some places.

While this may be good for the consumer, the price represents serious problem for the industry and the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-op has now resorted to implementing quotas to regulate supply and to help the industry survive.

Co-op general manager Danielle Adams said their focus was on keeping the trade open through their retail stores to ensure money continued to flow to their members.

"Regulating supply is not something we are comfortable doing but sometimes hard decisions have to be made and these decisions were made in consultation with our shareholders"

She said while the Clarence was unique because of its large river estuary and ocean fleets, that size posed challenges when demand reduced.

"The markets have fallen quite dramatically over the last week,"

"We are an industry that relies on restaurants, clubs, takeaway shops.

"So when you take away the bulk of where we can move our stock you are going to find challenges in pricing structure."

While it's hoped the quota system can help fishers by preventing the price of prawns any lower, Ms Adams said they were working "hour by hour" to come up with solutions

"We have brought in restrictions on product to see if we can return some kind of realistic income to the fisher," she said. "We are just trying to look after 120 plus operators."

But Ms Adams stressed they were simply doing what everyone else across the world was doing right now - trying their best in an increasingly challenging situation.

"It is uncharted waters, you can't just grab a history book and see how it was managed in the past,"

"We are one of hundreds of thousands of business that are really feeling the pinch throughout this challenge and we have to take it one situation and one conversation at a time."

With prices lower and the produce just as fresh, Ms Adams urged people to shop for local seafood.

"The product is just as good a quality but we are trying to keep product locally because the infrastructure around us doesn't it support the return the product deserves.

"The doors are open, we are offering really good product at a great price. We really are spoiled for choice."

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