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New program for northern prawn fishery

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t, MEDIA RELEASEMinister for Primary Industries and EnergySimon Crean, MP DPIE91/260C 21 October 1991


Fishermen in the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) are now eligible for a new voluntary program designed to improve returns to fishermen and preserve prawn stocks, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, announced today.

"The NPF is one of Australia's most valuable fisheries with an annual production of about $100m and the new buy-back program is part of a necessary restructuring which will reduce the fishing pressure," Mr Crean said.

The program is designed to help some fishermen leave the fishery and others to remain while minimising the disruption to the industry and to the personal livelihoods of the fishermen.

Mr Crean said that fishermen could elect to sell their units in the fishery until 15 January 1992 under an industry-funded program which provides $950 per unit plus other benefits.

"The new offer builds on the NPF restructuring program which was developed last year to reduce the fishing effort by almost halving the number of units of fishing capacity to 50,000 by the start of the 1993 fishing

season," he said.

"The industry is aware that if this target is not reached through the voluntary buy-back, it will be faced with a compulsory reduction of the remaining units.

"Industry came forward with the latest proposal because of its concern that the first phase of the buy back, which expired on April 1 this year, had not removed enough boats.

"Consequently I have accepted the latest industry proposal on the basis that borrowings associated with the buy-back would be limited to the $40.9m Government guarantee, that they would all be repaid by the industry, and that this will be the last enhanced buy-back program for the NPF."

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Telephone: (06)277 7520 Facsimile: (06)273 4120

Operators who accept the offer will be able to continue fishing until the end of the 1992 season and will not have to pay adjustment levies.

"I believe this makes the offer very attractive and I would encourage all fishermen to carefully consider participating in the buy-back," Mr Crean said.

"It is vital to the future of the fishery that the total restructuring program is a success," he said.

Information: Catherine Payne, Minister's office (06) 277 7520. Con Keating, Department, (06) 272 5084.