PRAWNS APLENTY: Rob Moir from the Northern Rivers Seafoods promises there will be plenty of local prawns available over the Chr
PRAWNS APLENTY: Rob Moir from the Northern Rivers Seafoods promises there will be plenty of local prawns available over the Chr

Thieves dared to pinch the prawns

By PATRIZIA REIMER

KEVIN ALECKSON would like to say 'Go ahead, make my day' to the brazen prawn thieves who ransacked his business last Christmas.

With a new security system installed just weeks ago, the deputy chairman of the Evans Head Fishermen's Co-op is hoping the cowards strike again.

"Let them try it again so we can catch them," he said.

"We've got surveillance and full alarms. We've hefted up the locks and we've locked all the members out now who used to be able to come in and get ice 24/7."

The business was robbed two years in a row less than a week before Christmas with thieves taking about 200kg of king prawns last year and a similar amount the year before.

"We get 300 people lined up to get prawns at Christmas Even so we've got to gamble and buy enough product," he said.

"Before Christmas we want to have at least a tonne of prawns on the premises. And still every year we've run out of them."

Recent reports in the metropolitan media have suggested prawn prices would skyrocket following Federal Government changes to quarantine regulations for imported prawns.

The new regulations came into effect a few months ago and require raw imported prawn meat to undergo tougher testing for three diseases to protect the local prawn industry from disease. The changes do not affect cooked imported prawns.

Australian Prawn Farmers Association executive officer Scott Walter said he did not expect to see any real effect on the prices of locally caught or farmed prawns.

"The high Australian dollar means a lot of Australian wild caught product is being diverted to the Australian market," he said.

"My members are telling me prices are declining. Claims that prices are going to double are ridiculous."

Northern Rivers Seafoods owner Robert Moir agreed saying the effects would be felt more in the city restaurant industry, the main destination for raw imported prawns.

"We just sell local product," said the Ballina businessman.

"The regulations affect mainly the medium and large king prawns which are sought after in the capital cities."



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