Prawn fighting fund levy

THE Sunshine Coast prawning industry has welcomed Federal Government moves to tackle cheap imports by imposing a levy on the seafood favourite.

A proposal to go before the Federal Parliament later this year could see a levy of up to five cents placed on every kilo of prawns.

The money raised would help both wild and farm prawn producers fund a million-dollar advertising campaign to promote local product.

Owner of Mooloolaba's Higgs Seafood, Paul Higginbottom, welcomed the move but said previous attempts to impose a levy through the State Government had failed.

"As a wild caught industry we've tried levy for marketing and different things over the years," Mr Higginbottom said.

"But the State Government doesn't support levies, even though it was no real cost to them.

"Hopefully it can be done on a federal level."

He said a levy across the board would be welcome.

"Everyone benefits," he said.

"I'm hopeful to see it up and running. I think industry would support it."

Another Coast prawn producer, who asked not to be named, said he had little hope of seeing the levy introduced.

"They've tried this at least eight times in the past five years," he said.

Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries executive officer, Karen Hollamby, said a levy would be a huge help to the cause.

"We've had a whole bunch of consumer research done and basically the feedback is that people don't think about prawns except at special occasions like Christmas and Easter," she said. "We're trying to introduce prawns to other special occasions."

She said if the appropriate legislation was passed this year, it would take up to 18 months before a statutory levy could be introduced.

Ms Hollamby said it was not about competing with imports but more about producing a high quality Australian product that people could rely on and trust.

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