The abalone industry in the south-west has welcomed a state government decision to roll over its quota.
Western District Abalone Divers Association executive officer Harry Peeters said the industry had been brought to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus, leaving six divers and six deckhands in limbo. "The virus is having a massive impact on the industry," Mr Peeters said.
"There's no fishing going on. We have targeted our catch at the live market because we catch premium abalone in the region but there's no live abalone going from anywhere in Australia to China, which is the major market."
Mr Peeters said the region's industry had a quota of 70 tonnes, which converts to more than $3.5 million worth of abalone caught in south-west waters.
"As an export commodity it would be worth double that amount," he said.
Mr Peeters said even when the virus was contained, there would still be some uncertainty for the industry.
"Even if they eliminate the virus tomorrow, there will be a delay in the uptake of abalone back into China," he said.
Mr Peeters said abalone was a popular restaurant item in China, but the virus had led to people being cautious about eating out.
"It is used in banquets and at wedding receptions and things like that - it will take time to rebuild the market," he said.
On Wednesday Mr Peeters welcomed news the industry's quota would be rolled over to the next quota year. He said divers had been concerned they may not be able to catch the remaining 15 per cent of their quota before March 31. "We're greatly appreciative of the Minister's decision," Mr Peeters said.
"Since the establishment of the Victorian Fisheries Authority, there has been a can-do attitude towards reducing red-tape and improving the viability of the abalone industry."
Southern Ocean Mariculture general manager Mark Gervis said the full impact of the virus would not be known for some time.
However, he said the timing of the outbreak was concerning because he had already been preparing for a slow year. Mr Gervis said the demand for abalone to celebrate the Chinese New Year was less when the festivities took place close to Christmas due to a lack of funds.
In addition to that, he believes the market is becoming saturated. "It hasn't been a great year anyway because of such high production out of Chinese abalone farms and because of the timing of the Chinese New Year," he said.
Mr Gervis said he hoped the virus would not impact exports into Singapore and Hong Kong, two of its biggest markets.
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