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Government To Consider Tuna Industry Help

AUSTRALIA - The Federal Government says it will consider what level of support it can offer Port Lincoln's tuna industry once plans are in place to manage a cut to the catch quota.

Australia's southern bluefin tuna quota has been cut by 25 per cent over two years because of declining fish numbers reports ABC News.

Federal Fisheries Minister, Tony Burke says before any support is offered, the Government will work with the industry to find out how it wants to manage the cuts.

"Those are issues that we want to work through with industry and until we've got those discussions through, it's too early to have discussions about the employment consequences because they'll all hinge on where industry wants to go on that first question," he told ABC News.

He said that the information coming through, was saying if the world kept going the way it was, it was a case of the species potentially facing extinction.

"These are difficult decisions, we don't deny that for a minute but it needs to be acknowledged the reason for taking these decisions is because the alternatives were far far worse," said Mr Burke.

The Eyre Peninsula Regional Development Board says it will look at retraining for people who may lose their jobs because of cuts to the tuna quota. The Board's, Mark Cant says at least 150 jobs could be lost, but it will take time for individual licence holders to assess their situations.

He says if tuna prices increase, jobs will not be lost immediately. "There's still a lot of requirement in regards to the maintenance of the cages, nets, obviously the feeding side of it, but they'll be looking at how they can reduce costs and obviously labour is one of those components," he said.

Mr Cant said that there is a big labour component within the tuna industry and obviously those people have got skills and we'll be trying to look at where we can adapt those skills in existing aquaculture and fishing industries, but also with the potential for mining in the not too distant future.

The president of the Port Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Steve Prout, says the wider impact of the quota cuts on the city is starting to hit home. He said: "It's not just the actual industry itself and those that work in it but also the ancillary trade, the truck drivers, the freight companies, the electricians, the plumbers, all those sorts of people who are directly affected by the industry."

the Fish Site Editor

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