Travelers wear face masks as they stand in the arrivals area at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing (Photo: Associated Press)
Coronavirus outbreak in China hits Tasmanian lobster industry
Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 06:00 (GMT + 9)
Tasmania's rock lobster industry has been left treading water following mass cancellations from Chinese buyers.
Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fisherman's Association chief executive John Sansom said the Chinese government had been advising its citizens not to travel or visit public places to stop the spread of a deadly virus outbreak.
"Because of that the restaurants have cancelled their orders," Mr Sansom said. He estimated more than 90 per cent of Tasmania's red rock lobster market was exported to China each year.
"The exporters ... their tanks are full. Which means the fishermen can't sell it, so their boats are full," he said.
"As far as I know no one is exporting. People will be trying to get rid of fish locally.
"We have fishermen selling fish on the wharf, we have other retail establishments helping out.
"Other states are in the same boat, if you'll excuse the pun."
Mr Sansom said the impact on the industry would vary depending on the length of the event.
"This is a very important time of year for us around the Chinese New Year. We have a lot of people saving up their quota for this time," he said.
"Our quota year finishes in about six weeks. If they don't use up all their quota before that then they'll be making a loss.
Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett confirmed on Saturday the cancellations were connected with the recent outbreak of coronavirus.
"Our advice is that while there is no trade ban, local restrictions on movement in China associated with the coronavirus outbreak, are impacting the sale of rock lobsters and potentially abalone into China," he said.
"We are working very closely with the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fisherman's Association, Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council, processors and the Australian Government to better understand the market impacts on local businesses."
Both Mr Sansom and the minister encouraged Tasmanians to support local fishers by buying rock lobsters.
North-West processors/fish handlers include the Stanley Fish, JSJ Seafood, Redrock Lobster and T.O.P Lobster.
Author: Meg Powell / The Examiner