The Australian government is intending to fund 200 flights, to transport hundreds of tonnes of lobsters and other seafood overseas; this will hopefully prevent further stock waste and employee layoff in the seafood sector. These flights will operate to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the COVID-19 outbreak has placed a huge constraint on Australian exporters. Borders around the world stay shut and airlines have trimmed down passenger flights tremendously; shippers are also having a tough time finding cargo space to ship their goods to the final destinations.

“Necessary public health restrictions are already placing massive pressure on business viability and job security; we can’t afford for our farmers, fishers and exporters to be under similar pressure just because they can’t get their goods onto a plane” said Simon Birmingham, the Trade Minister of Australia.

In Western Australia alone, up to 98% of its lobster are exported to China. Now that cities and businesses are opening up after a widespread lock down in China, suppliers are unable to get their shipments into major city centres like Shanghai; as flights are very limited.

A box of lobsters.
Photo Credit: Robert Koenig-Luck

According to ABC News, lobster’s processing companies have been negotiating with five airlines to secure a deal for their exporting shipments. They were initially considering to transport the shipments to China via Japan; they were attempting to tap in on existing passenger flight codes that are now grounded but have landings rights.

Now that the government has stepped in, more than AUD $500 million worth of lobsters and AUD $800 worth of seafood are expected to be loaded onto aircraft at Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

On the return flight back to Australia, these aircraft will be loaded with medical supplies and equipment ordered by the Australian authorities.

Featured Image: Sydney Morning Herald

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