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Clean Seas Tuna To Lay Off 50 Pct Of Workforce Australia, September 12, 12

Clean Seas Tuna is shrinking its workforce by about half and selling surplus boats as it grapples with sick Yellowtail Kingfish.

Staff numbers at the Port Lincoln-based fishing company would drop to about 50 once all the redundancies had taken place, Clean Seas chief executive Craig Foster said.

“It is never easy and it is not something that we like doing,” Mr. Foster said.

“But the job is to restructure the company, so that it will go on and at least some people can have continuing employment.”

Mr. Foster said a fairly high percentage of those made redundant - ranging from technicians working with fish to senior management - have managed to find jobs elsewhere.

As part of a turnaround plan, Clean Seas has offloaded a number of boats because of reduced fish stocks.

“Clean Seas Tuna at its peak was farming about 4,000 tons of kingfish a year,” Mr. Foster said.

“We are currently at about 1,000 tons per annum and that just meant we had more boats and more gear than we needed.”

Clean Seas Tuna booked a full year loss for the second year in a row in 2011-12, which included a $17.7 million writedown after its Yellowtail Kingfish stocks were struck by illness.

The Port Lincoln-based fishing company said the health of its yellowtail stocks were improving after their feed composition was changed and should return to good health in about four to six weeks.

“The mortality rate has been rapidly coming down over the last two months,” Mr. Foster said.

Clean Seas is on the lookout for a core investor in the company and was being advised by financial services firm BBY on the matter.

Mr. Foster said the company had identified a number of potential investors and hoped to have completed its search by the end of calendar 2012.