CRAYFISH are expected to be almost unobtainable in Warrnambool next week for the May Racing Carnival with local fishermen having already filled their quotas.
One fisherman said there was only one professional cray fisherman operating out of Port Fairy and finding a crayfish in Warrnambool would be “as hard as snagging a 50-cent quadrella”.
“People are used to coming to Warrnambool for the May Racing Carnival and having a crayfish. I can tell you now they will just not be available,” the fisherman, who declined to be named, said.
“The minister has already told us the quota will drop from 260 tonnes to 230 next season so it will be even harder to get crayfish come May races in future.”
The fisherman said Warr-nambool, Port Fairy and south-west cray fishermen had already filled their quotas and the new July 1 allocation would not come into effect until the September 16 season had started.
“There’s months of cray fishing but no one has quotas,” he said. “Crays are meant to be selling for $80 a kilogram. They sold for $92 in South Australia a fortnight ago but the reality is you could name your own price at present — there’s none available,” he said.
The fisherman said the restrictive quotas would be in place until 2020 due to a move aimed to build up crayfish stocks.
“We’ve had no trouble filling the quotas this year. We went to a meeting with the minister and 18 of the 20 people there voted for the quota to remain the same,” he said.
“There was an indication that the quota would be reduced. Going to the meeting was just a complete waste of time. It’s the racegoers who will feel the effects of these changes next week.
“People will be screaming. There will be a severe shortage. There’s only two fishermen at Apollo Bay still working and one at Port Fairy. There’s no way they will be able to meet the demand,” he said.