A former Tasmanian government minister will lead the rock lobster industry through one of its most difficult periods.
Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishers Association president Karl Krause has confirmed that former long-serving MHA Rene Hidding was the association's new chief executive.
Mr Krause said Mr Hidding had been selected from a wide field of candidates to replace respected former CEO John Sansom who had retired.
"The Board is pleased with the outcome, particularly given the serious issues facing the industry in the coming years," Mr Krause said.
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"It would have been a serious challenge in terms of cost, even in good times," he said.
"(But) with this market collapse the capacity of vessel owners to transition to the new survey standards over coming years looks increasingly unlikely."
Mr Hidding, who has been in the role for several weeks, is already talking to both the state and federal governments on behalf of the industry.
"The rock lobster industry in Tasmania faces one of the more difficult periods in its history due to the recent collapse of its major overseas export market for live rock lobster, for at least a year, likely more," Mr Hidding said.
"There's never a good time for such a significant event to hit an industry, but this comes at a time when there is also escalating pressure to implement safety upgrades to an ageing fishing fleet.
"We are engaged with both federal and state governments on a range of issues with a view to maintaining long term confidence in our industry.
"There are some big discussions to be had."
Despite the challenges, Mr Hidding is optimistic for the industry.
"As some comfort against all those those concerns, however, is the underlying great story that Tasmania's iconic rock lobster fishery is in very good shape, with strong stocks in most areas around the State, which is a credit to all the participants in the fishery,as well as the fishery's managers," he said.
Tasmania's rock lobster industry took a big hit with the COVID pandemic and were locked out of China.
Mr Hidding, who was in State Parliament for 23 years, was Opposition leader and minister, resigned in February 2019.
After a police investigation into sexual allegations made against him dating back 40 years, police decided not to lay charges.
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