All hands on deck for season launch

All hands on deck for season launch

Dozens of professional lobster boats are expected to be on the water at 6am tomorrow when the Southern Zone season for 2023/24 gets under way.

Skippers and deckhands will set almost 12,000 pots on the rocky ledges of the Southern Ocean.

As ever, the weather, sea conditions and market forces will determine how many of the 160 boats in the Southern Zone actually head out to sea.

The early season start, a 10% quota rollover mechanism and discount licence fees are part of the State Government’s responses to the loss of the Chinese export market in 2020 as well as the impact of COVID.

China has lifted tariffs on Australian barley but imposts remain on such commodities as wine and lobster.

Premier Peter Malinauskas is the latest in a long line of Australian politicians who has sought the resumption of regular trade and he is heading to China for high-level talks next month.

His government discounted professional licence fees by 50% last season but the full amount is again required in 2023/24.

Many local fishers averaged around $55 per kilogram during last season but industry insiders are unwilling to predict an opening price in the days ahead.

Preparations for the season were again disrupted by the mechanical failure of the straddle lift at the Beachport boatyard.

It has yet to be repaired with the problem first becoming apparent in mid-2022.

As a result, the boats again have to be lifted by contracted cranes on to the slipway for return to the water.

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