By MICHELLE SLATER
Gippslanders are being encouraged to eat fresh Lakes Entrance prawns by supporting an initiative that will help struggling local fishers, inject funds into towns and also raise money for the CFA.
The initiative is being organised by Discover Rosedale to pre-order fresh Lakes prawns through the Rosedale Butchers to pick up throughout February and the profits will be donated to the local CFA.
It is aiming to get people into Rosedale, while supporting Lakes prawn fishos who are suffering a slump in summer tourism due to bushfires.
Prawn fisherman Ray Butcher described Lakes Entrance’s peak summer season as more like a “wet winter” with no cars in the main street in the aftermath of an evacuation order over the New Year period.
Mr Butcher sells fresh prawns straight off his boat and said before the fires hit there would be 20 customers waiting at the harbour at 7am.
“But when the evacuation orders came through it crippled us. We’ve noticed a big drop through the whole town, we have no tourists to sell to,” he said.
“Everyone loves fresh seafood off a boat, we still outsell fish shops because the public perception is that it’s fresher off the boat, people love to come down to see what we have.”
Mr Butcher has been a fisho for 25 years said last year “was not great” with added challenges such as currents, jellyfish and weeds which can “clog up the nets”.
He sells his catch through the Melbourne Fish Markets and local fish shops, as well as “up the coast”, but “when they shut the highway we couldn’t get up there”.
“Everyone tells us we have the best prawns in Australia, we have a good product and it needs to get out there, we have to support our own backyard,” Mr Butcher told Gippsland Farmer.
“The Rosedale initiative helps us move our product at a reasonable price.”
Rosedale Butchers’ Michael Vaux said Rosedale was also experiencing a downturn particularly when fewer people were driving from Melbourne along the Princes Highway.
“We estimate it’s dropped by half across the town, between Christmas and New Year’s is a busy time, this is when a lot of town income comes in,” he said.
Mr Vaux said this would encourage people to make a special trip to Rosedale to pick up the fresh bounty, and he did not rule out expanding the project to other East Gippsland produce.
“We hope this will get more people into town and people can be aware there is a selection of businesses, it’s worth a trip to Rosedale,” he said.
To order, visit the Rosedale Butchers Facebook page.
All profits will be donated to the Rosedale CFA.
By MICHELLE SLATER