South Australia’s rock lobster industry could lose up to $18 million, or 55 tonnes of catch, per season under revised plans for no-take zones in marine parks off South Australia, according to the SA Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association.
The State Government on Friday released new plans for 'no-take', or sanctuary, zones, cutting the number from the 144 first proposed in 2010 to 84. The Northern Zone runs from the Murray Mouth to the WA border.
SA Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association president, Trent Gregory said the cumulative impact on the fishery industry could be up to 55 tonnes of catch per season, which would have a current market value of about $18 million.
'For a fishery with a total quota of 310 tonnes, it will have a huge impact,' he explains. 'We stand to lose another eight to 10 vessels from our current fleet of around 45 boats, which will mean a significant loss of export revenue and employment in regional SA.'
SA Rock Lobster Advisory Council executive officer Justin Phillips said areas such as Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and the Yorke Peninsula would be worst affected.
'The number of sanctuary zones has been reduced but depending on where they are and the industries you're talking about, there are still significant impacts,' he said.
As 95 per cent of the lobster catch is exported overseas, Mr Phillips said there would be little impact on consumer prices in South Australia.
Environment Minister Paul Caica said the Government had committed itself to 'buying out any displaced commercial fishing effort arising from the zoning', but Opposition environment spokesman Steven Marshall said marine parks must be 'focused on outcomes, not pure symbolism'.