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Drought impacting Gulf barra fishers

Suzannah Baker, Tuesday May 7, 2013 - 12:49 EST
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Commercial fishers in the Gulf of Carpentaria are suffering reduced barramundi numbers - ABC

It's not just those on the land who are feeling the effects of the drought, fisherman in northern parts of the country are too.

Gary Ward is the chairman of Gulf of Carpentaria commercial fishers association and has noticed a drastic drop in barramundi numbers.

He says the missing wet season is to blame for an 80 per cent reduction compared to last year.

"Fishermen are battling to fill orders that they've been able to fill for many years."

"There's a drought on the land, there's a drought in the sea."

Mr Ward says they're hoping to get a cold snap in winter which could improve the situation.

He says in the past fishers have pushed through dry periods of two to three years.

"Those people who are well established in the Gulf fishing will be alright, but anyone who has come in lately might find it a bit difficult."

"It's the same as the land production you have your ups and downs and we're not panicking at this stage."

However it's a different story for barra fishers on the east coast, who are doing well after a slow start to the season.

Seafood wholesaler and exporter David Caracciolo has businesses in Darwin in the Northern Territory, as well as Mackay on Queensland's central coast.

He says the fishers around Mackay have been bringing in some of their best catches of the year, but it won't fill the void left by the northern market.

"The north is an area where we get a lot of frozen wild caught barramundi fillets out of and that has put a shortage on the market and prices will lift."

He says the east coast traditionally supplies fresh barramundi which is flown to Melbourne or Sydney or road freighted to the fresh market.

Mr Caracciolo says they're afraid the shortage from the north will mean other products might takeover the market.

"Once we don't supply that product to the market another product could come in."

"Whether that's imported fish or farmed barramundi the wild caught fishermen lose that part of the market and it's very hard to get that back."

He says they've got until June to try and try to fill the stocks up in the north.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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