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Big king prawn catch snapped up by hungry market

Eliza Rogers, Wednesday July 9, 2014 - 06:46 EST
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Workers busily process king prawns at Hervey Bay Cold Stores. - ABC

The Queensland king prawn season has been enjoying strong demand and plentiful supply as it hits the halfway point.

Stephen Murphy's family has run Hervey Bay Cold Stores for 30 years, and supplies up to 20 per cent of the state's general 2,500-tonne annual catch.

Mr Murphy says demand normally drops off after Christmas, but this year it held on right up to Easter.

He says yield is shaping up to be close to last year's record of 2,800 tonnes, when high rainfall pushed large numbers of young prawns out to sea.

They've continued to breed up, but windy weather has temporarily hindered fishing this year.

"Normally our boats just anchor up and wait until weather passes over, but this year the weather was so constantly bad, we brought them all in for a couple of times," Mr Murphy said.

"We've never had to do that before.

This year's lack of rainfall is now causing concern next year's catch won't be as high.

Almost all of Hervey Bay Cold Stores' supply goes to Sydney and Melbourne, after a rising Aussie dollar lowered what were high exports to Europe.

The reduced competition has put a downward pressure on returns, but Mr Murphy says he helps balance those losses by doing his own fishing, selling and storage.

The large-size prawns he specialises in also have less competition from imports and prawn farms.


© ABC 2014

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