A Cairns live seafood exporter that lost most of its trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic is among the first agribusiness exporters to receive funding from a new Queensland Government economic recovery program.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Torres Straits Seafood successfully applied for a share of the $500,000 Market Diversification and Resilience Grant Program.
“The Queensland Government is working closely with industry on the economic recovery of the agriculture and fisheries sectors, including agribusiness exporters who support thousands of jobs,” Mr Furner said.
“The Queensland Government, through Trade and Investment Queensland has assisted Torres Straits Seafood to source a new export customer in Hong Kong and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has now provided the company with a grant to buy vital new equipment to support their export ambitions.
“A $7,500 grant to purchase a vacuum packaging machine and an ice maker will allow the business which employs 14 people to diversify, value-adding to the production line by increasing its frozen seafood products.
“Torres Straits Seafood is a prime example of a Queensland agribusiness building resilience and finding opportunity from adversity.”
Mr Furner, who visited Torres Straits Seafood in Cairns last month, said economies around the world were hit hard by COVID-19.
“We are continuing to manage the health response well and that means we can start to deliver Queensland’s $8 billion plan for economic recovery.
“Supporting businesses like Torres Strait Seafood will help them to adapt and overcome the challenges they are facing.”
Torres Straits Seafood Manager Sonia Einersen said the first order had already been received for the ongoing supply of frozen lobster tails to supermarkets in Hong Kong.
“With funding support from the Queensland Government, we will be able to value-add to our products, expand into other markets and protect jobs for our employees and the local fishers who supply us,” Ms Einersen said.
Originally exporting live coral trout, lobster and mud crabs, Torres Straits Seafood lost 95 per cent of orders from China and domestic demand fell by 90 percent when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
More than 150 businesses applied for the first round of the Market Diversification and Resilience Grants Program for COVID-19 affected exporters – part of the Queensland Government’s $27.25 million coronavirus industry economic recovery package.