The seafood trade faces an uncertain future as the coronavirus threatens to leave many unemployed, an industry association says.
Sales of coral trout and mud crab have plummeted in Queensland with up to 40 boats being pulled from the water, according to the Queensland Seafood Industry Association.
Chief executive officer Eric Perez warns action must be taken quickly to save jobs as the coronavirus shuts off China, a major export market.
China and Southeast Asia make up about 99 per cent of Queensland’s live coral trout market.
However, China has temporarily shut down its live animal trade over coronavirus fears, and it could be months before it starts accepting fresh Australian seafood again.
The mud crab trade has been rocked by the ban, as the usually high demand over the Chinese New Year fizzled out.
“It’s pretty much killed that market in the interim,” Mr Perez told AAP.
“The market has been pulled out from under us.”
Mr Perez will be part of a round-table discussion with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday, which he says is critical to helping the trade.
“We need the help quickly. We don’t need any bureaucratic mumbling,” he said.
Australia’s domestic market could become flooded with seafood product if providers are prevented from selling to Asia.
Mr Perez says this could lead to a drop in price, which is great for consumers but could lead to crews being unable to pay business overheads.
Seafood workers across the nation have watched their industry grind to a halt, with crayfish exports from WA ceasing while rock lobster sales in SA and Victoria have been decimated.