Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed the creation of the Australian Agriculture Worker Visa (Ag Visa), which has been developed to address labour shortages in the agriculture sector brought on by international border closures.
“The Australian seafood industry welcomes the creation of the Federal Government’s Ag Visa,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.
“The Australian seafood industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring necessary border closures. Most notably through an inability to access the foreign labour market. Which, like other primary producers around the country, our sector is underpinned by.
“Importantly, the visa will be available to the whole of agriculture including fisheries, forestry and agricultural processing sectors and will target seasonal, skilled and semiskilled workers. With the ability for them to move between locations to follow the seasonality of sectors.
“We are optimistic the visa will provide a solution to the ongoing, severe labour shortages being faced by the broader ag industries, and provide a crucial and timely lifeline to the Australian seafood industry.
“The consequences of the current labour shortage cannot be understated. A lack of access to on-water crews has left many fishing vessels tied up at the wharf and unable to operate for two to three months at a time. Aquaculture farms have been unable to meet productivity targets and manage growth without access to a skilled workforce. While the post-harvest sector’s workloads are becoming unmanageable for current workers. Quite simply, without access to forgein labour the industry would not be able to continue in its current form.
“Despite high unemployment rates in Australia, and the displacement of workers in tourism
and hospitality sectors, the seafood industry has remained unable to attract more of the local skilled labour market due to the nature of the work, and as such we rely on international labour.
“We see this visa as an extension of the strides made under the Pacific Labour Mobility, with broader access and more opportunities. We applaud this commitment from the Australian Government and we look forward to continuing discussions on how the visa will assist in a pathway to permanent residency.
“The Ag Visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our commercial seafood sector, allowing us to continue to put our Great Australian Seafood on tables around the country, and internationally, for generations to come.
“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the industry members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and alongside the government to develop this visa.”
For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta please contact SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Jessica McInerney via E: email@example.com M: 0420 695 431.