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Friday, 1 May 1936

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I support the contention of Senator Ceilings that it is most desirable that we should expand the fishing industry. Enormous quantities of the very best crayfish are to be found on the Victorian coast, between Barwon Heads and Portland, and also off the east coast of Tasmania, where a great number of fishermen are engaged in this industry. Often the work is hazardous, because the pots are set on very dangerous ledges, and several lives have already been lost. There is a good home market for crayfish in the big cities. Nevertheless, I have seen the market glutted. In fact I have bought good crayfish on the east coast of Victoria at 3d. each. Of course, that is not the rule; when the demand is firm these fish bring from1s. to 2s. each. Undoubtedly, there is room for expanding this industry, by canning crayfish, just as there is room for expansion of trawling in coastal waters, some of which teem with fish. Despite these facts, however, we have so far been content mainly to fish with hook and line in shallow waters. Fishing is a big industry in Canada, and salmon is one of the main products. In Australia the industry has definite possibilities of development, notably in connexion with smoked barracouta and other fish, and in the canning of crayfish; it could be greatly developed, particularly on the coast, from Portland to Mount Grambier, where these fish abound among the enormous reefs. A profitable industry could possiblybe built up there, through the establishment of a canning factory at, say, Portland.

SenatorHardy. - The problem of marketing fresh fish has yet to be solved in country districts.

Senator GUTHRIE - I believe that to-day the hauls are deliberately curtailed. I understand that fishermen are limited to a catch of four baskets of schnapper, and from six to eight baskets of barracouta. It is no idle claim to say that a profitable industry could be built up in canning this fish, and the possibilities should be carefully examined. I am not suggesting that a duty higher than1d. per lb., British preferential, is essential, butI would like to see the Government encourage the smoked fish industry and the canning of crayfish.

SenatorBROWN (Queensland) [3.25]. - In answer to a question by me, the Minister informed the Senate some time ago that efforts were being made by the Government to discover the breeding grounds of certain pelagic fish, and we were given to understand that a ship for this purpose was being procured overseas.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No; tenders will be called for the construction of the vessel within a week or so.

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