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Government Movers to Help Rock Lobster Industry

by Ellen Hardy
08 July 2008, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - The Brumby Government is to invest A$5 million to secure the long-term viability of Victoria's western zone rock lobster industry.

Visiting Seafood Industry Victoria's headquarters in West Melbourne, Minister Responsible for Fisheries, Joe Helper, said this one-off initiative would restore stability in the industry.

"The Brumby Government is taking action to keep this vital industry alive, and this A$5 million structural adjustment programme would assist western zone rock lobster fishers who wish to sell their entitlements to the program," Mr Helper said.

"This re-structure programme will restore investor confidence, improve profitability and provide financial assistance for struggling license holders to exit the industry."

Mr Helper said the licence holders that remain would then become more economically viable.

"The industry has worked hard to adapt to a number of challenges in recent times, including reduced profitability and a 30 per cent reduction in catch quotas over the last two years," he said.

"These events have had significant impacts on the industry and that's why it's vital that the Brumby Government take action to ensure its future.

"Today's announcement will ensure ongoing benefits to the community from a sustainable rock lobster harvest."

Mr Helper said the programme would be delivered by the Rural Finance Corporation and based on guidelines to be developed by the Department of Primary Industries, in consultation with the industry.

"This initiative is a good example of what can be achieved through positive collaboration between industry and government," he said.

"Southern rock lobster is a premium food product and the majority of the catch is exported live to Asia."

The Victorian rock lobster industry is characterised primarily by a number of small businesses and is a significant employer generating economic benefits for coastal communities. It is an important employer in coastal towns between the South Australian border and Apollo Bay.

Ellen Hardy