South Australia's seafood exports are under threat because of a government plan to establish a vast network of Marine Park Sanctuary Zones.
Representatives from the South Australian Rock Lobster Advisory Council (SARLAC) say the proposal will devastate the industry in that state.
South Australian seafood is ranked among the best in the world due to its pristine oceans.
The rock lobster industry generates about $280 million for South Australia each year – the bulk of which comes from exports.
SARLAC executive officer Justin Phillips described the SA Government decision to establish “no-take” fishing zones as a “feel good exercise” that provides no added protection to the environment.
Eliza Ferguson, Export Manager at Ferguson Australia, a leading Australian harvester and exporter of Southern Rock Lobster, said the flow-on effect from the Government’s decision to the South Australian seafood industry will be devastating.
“We need this (harvesting) for the local economy to bring in new money into the state,” she said.
Mr Phillips said it is ironic that on one hand the state government is “getting excited” about exporting SA seafood and on the other hand “locking out” seafood producers and commercial fishers from important areas.
"The government says that world demand for food will rise by 70 per cent by 2050 and that premium food production is a major growth area for the SA economy, Mr Phillips said. “The government's marine park policy is completely at odds with its desire to grow the state's production of premium food."
Mr Phillips said there is great potential for the SA rock lobster industry to grow its Asian markets.
But SA could miss out on those opportunities if the government proceeded with its current plan.
SA Premier Jay Weatherill recently pledged an additional $4 million in funding over four years, if re-elected, for marine park management.
He said the state "won't have a healthy fishing industry without a healthy marine environment."