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Schoolies land in bumper haul

POSITIVE CHANGE: Business development manager for Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-op Garry Anderson with a haul of prawns.Photo: Adam Hourigan
POSITIVE CHANGE: Business development manager for Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-op Garry Anderson with a haul of prawns.Photo: Adam Hourigan

AFTER years on struggle street, Clarence Valley prawn fishermen finally have something to smile about.

Clarence River school prawns are plentiful, and Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative business development manager Garry Anderson said the co-operative had taken in 15 tonnes of schoolies in the past week.

This time last year, floods had washed the prawns out to sea, leaving the trawler nets empty and the co-op without school prawns.

"Floods cause a huge disruption and things take a long time to recover," Mr Anderson said.

"But there is a fair bit more optimism amongst the fishermen now."

Mr Anderson said it wasn't just the amount of prawns that had the fishermen beaming.

"It's the size and the quality of the prawn... it's what they've been striving for," he said.

"A majority of the schoolies are coming in at a good size, number one.

"We've been waiting on this size of prawn for years, but the floods just washed everything out to sea and left us with the smaller prawns for many years."

Mr Anderson said the past five years had been "an absolute battle" but hoped things were shaping up well for the remainder of the prawn season.

"The only way to describe the past few years would be that we were on struggle street for a long time," he said.

"And even though we've had this one good week, it takes a long time to recover from floods." The dry weather has kept prawns in the bottom end of the river, with salty water and the phase of the moon aligning to give fishermen the perfect opportunity.

"We're hoping for the same result after next full moon, which is quite possible," Mr Anderson said.

"We do expect the quantity to taper off now because of the end of this moon phase but the quality of the prawn will remain.

"And things can change, but at the moment it looks like there'll be plenty of prawns around for Easter."

Mr Anderson encouraged prawn lovers to keep an eye out for Clarence River school prawns at seafood stores throughout the Valley.

"There should be some specials around and let me tell you, the prawns taste beautiful."

Topics:  clarence river clarence valley fishermen prawns