Admin Manager of Australian Ocean King Prawn Company, Therese McCrea shows of her seafood.
Admin Manager of Australian Ocean King Prawn Company, Therese McCrea shows of her seafood.

SEAFOOD SURPRISE: Bay prawn business eyes off US market

A HERVEY Bay seafood business hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is set to bounce back thanks to a $7500 State Government grant.

Minister Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Australian Ocean King Prawns had successfully applied for a share of the $500,000 Market Diversification and Resilience Grant Program.

The family business has been supplying premium quality seafood out of Hervey Bay for the local and export market for more than 35 years.

COVID-19 stalled the company's plans to expand into the United States.

Customers from Greece and Taiwan stopped buying, as did Australian restaurants and clubs which were forced to close.

Mr Furner said the $7500 grant, to be used on a vacuum packaging machine, would help Australian Ocean King Prawns improve the quality of its stored seafood.

Their products will be sold into new interstate and international markets when conditions improve.

"Like other economies around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Queensland businesses hard," Mr Furner said.

"We are continuing to manage the health response well and that means we can start to deliver Queensland's plan for economic recovery.

"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.

"Australian Ocean King Prawns, which has a fleet of 10 trawlers and employs 112 people, is a prime example of a Queensland agribusiness building resilience and finding opportunity from adversity," Mr Furner said."

Company administration manager Therese McCrea said king prawns, which are normally snap frozen at sea before they're shipped, now have to be stored for a significant period of time.

"Vacuum packaging is ideal for seafood and important to the sustainability and expansion of our business," she said.

"By increasing the shelf life of our seafood product, we'll be ready to take advantage of an upturn in sales when the coronavirus pandemic eases."