The Australian Government has agreed to waive more than $10 million in levies for commonwealth fishers across the country impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Australian fishers were among the first and worst hit by the pandemic when access to international markets stopped and local cafes and restaurants were closed, bringing many in the industry to their knees,” said AFMA in a statement.
To cushion the blow, the government has provided targeted, temporary support to the sector, including waiving the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) levies for the remainder of 2020 for all commonwealth fishers.
“I’m pleased to announce that AFMA has now put around $2.5 million back into the pockets of those fishers who had already paid levies, and waived a further $7.9 million in outstanding levies,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.
“This put millions of dollars back into the hands of commonwealth fishers in every state and territory across the country at a time when they were up against the wall.
“The levy relief applies to around 300 commonwealth fishing vessels that directly employ around 1,500 fishers and also secures the supply of seafood required by local processing facilities that directly employ around 500 people.
“Every year, our commonwealth fisheries industry contributes around $632 million to the Australian economy, supporting jobs especially in our regional communities.
“The levy relief is in addition to our $350 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism that’s ensuring our seafood gets to key markets and $4 million for an industry-led marketing campaign to encourage Australians to eat more Australian seafood.”
Commonwealth Fisheries Association Chair Dr George Kailis said it had been a difficult time for the seafood industry in Australia.
“The levy relief provided much appreciated breathing room so we could assess and then mitigate the long-term impacts the pandemic will have on our businesses,” Dr Kailis said.
“As we move forward, one of the simplest ways consumers can support the Australian seafood industry is to buy local, freshly caught and sustainable seafood.”
Published since 1978, Ausmarine is the foremost magazine servicing the Australian and New Zealand commercial, military and government marine sectors.