29 Oct 2009

Crisis ahead for fishing industry

8:38 am on 29 October 2009

Commercial fishermen say ageing vessels and crews will lead to a crisis for the $3.8 billion industry.

The average age of inshore commercial boats is almost 40 years, while crews average at about 50.

There are about 800 inshore fishing vessels in use, many of them wooden hulled or rusting steel.

Professional Skipper magazine editor Keith Ingram, a former commercial fisherman, says profit margins are too tight for some operators to purchase new boats, which can cost well over $1 million.

He says fishermen only get about $4 per kg for a bulk species such as snapper and lack of profits are keeping younger people out of the trade.

He fears more fishermen being squeezed out of the industry, will mean more foreign vessels and crews.