Australia subsidizes airlines to rescue his lobster fishermen

L’Australie subventionne les compagnies aériennes pour secourir ses pêcheurs de homards

In the Face of the almost total disappearance of the international air traffic due to the crisis of the Covid-19, Australia is subsidizing a dozen airline companies to ensure the export in the hold of his precious lobsters, salmon, and other products of agriculture or fisheries to support its producers in a crisis.

The “mechanism of assistance to international freight” International Freight Assistance Mechanism), launched by the government two months ago has made it possible to transport more than 10,000 tonnes of salmon, lobster, beef and other agricultural products to ” premium “, of which 3000 only for the chinese market, according to a progress report on the program revealed in early June by Michael Byrne, the coordinator-in-chief of this mechanism.

In early April, the australian government announced it had negotiated the implementation of the cargo flights with a dozen of airlines, it has committed to subsidize up to 50%, and for a total amount of 110 million australian dollars.

These flights depart from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, to serve the key markets of producers of seafood, but also meat of beef, that are China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates or Singapore. Despite of sanctions aimed at the barley, but also four of the largest slaughterhouses in australia, China seems to be always fond of food from Australia.

“Without air freight, our industry is unable to put our products on the international markets. No access to the market means no work for hundreds of our employees, fishermen spread over more than 1000 km along the western coast of Australia. So, we thank warmly the response government’s business who has helped keep our industry afloat and our staff to keep their jobs in this very difficult period, ” responded Matt Rutter, the CEO of the Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative, the largest co-op of fishermen, lobster in the world, based in Western Australia.

1048 flights in total

In the world of lobster in australia, the crisis is very severe. “The pandemic in China has made us very poorly. Our exports dropped to zero just before the chinese New Year, which is traditionally the period during which we fish the most and where we export the most. But this year, our boats stayed at the dock for over a month, until the chinese market is beginning to recover, ” recalls AFP Shaun McInnes, director of the general affairs of the cooperative in Geraldton.

While the fishing is usually over 4000 tonnes of lobster per year, their volumes of fishing have declined by 90% in February and march. The reason is simple: more than 90% of the production is exported, in vast majority of cases to China. And even if it is one of the first countries to have resumed its usual activities, the planes, themselves, remained nailed to the ground. However, these lobsters are often transported in more than 90% of the cases, in the hold of passenger aircraft. It is also the case for the salmon, or abalone, as Australia are also fished in large quantities.

In this difficult context, the grant program has allowed the fishermen of Geraldton to export 500 tons of lobster and the group Tassal, the first salmon producer in australia, which is established in Tasmania, to ensure deliveries to the international of about 300 tons.

And the ministry of Commerce regularly announce new routes. At the beginning of June, Simon Birmingham announced the signing of an agreement with Cathay Pacific, to ensure a weekly connection between Hong Kong and Adelaide (South Australia). The minister has also recently announced a direct link between Hong Kong, Singapore and Toowoomba, in the heart of a region of farmers located in Queensland.

At his point, Michael Byrne, has insured have negotiated a total of 1048 flights, which will carry more than 23 000 tonnes of perishable foodstuffs in the international.

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