Tropical North Queensland’s seafood industry has been given a major boost with the Morrison Government helping to secure a critical freight route between Cairns and Hong Kong.
Under this new agreement, Qantas will commence a weekly flight from Cairns to Hong Kong packed with around 45 tonnes of seafood sourced from local exporters.
The new flight will commence on Thursday, 7 May 2020 and builds on the Qantas Sydney-Cairns-Hong Kong freight route already in operation.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the first flight would be chock-a-block full of seafood sourced from local fishers.
He said he had been working closely with the industry to secure this much-needed flight as a first step in the coronavirus recovery phase.
“This is exactly the type of support our local seafood industry needs right now given there isn’t any commercial planes flying in and out of Tropical North Queensland,” Mr Entsch said
“With these flights now locked in, local lobster, coral trout and other fishers from across region will have the certainty they need to get back into the water, knowing they can get their product to overseas customers once again.”
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said these freight flights would be a major step in getting the local seafood industry back-on-track after an incredibly challenging start to the year.
He said the flights were part of the government’s $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism.
“We recognise the current coronavirus crisis has placed immense pressure on local seafood exporters, many of whom felt the earliest impacts when overseas demand began to dry up in January,” Mr Birmingham said.
“With demand returning, it’s absolutely critical local fishers are able to their quality product out of the water and onto planes headed for key export markets such as Hong Kong.
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the Morrison Government was re-connecting Australia’s seafood industry with the rest of the world.
“This is about making fishers along the Queensland coast can get their high-quality produce back overseas so we can keep more locals in jobs and generate extra export dollars,” Mr Duniam said.
“By reducing the barriers our fisheries exporters face, they can get back to focusing on producing the best and highest-quality product in the world.
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.