Aussie lobster crop meets Chinese demand

Lobster fishing Southern Rock Lobster fishing. Credit: Ferguson Australia

Southern Rock Lobster fisherman in Australia’s southern zone season have reported good conditions and strong catches in the first two weeks of the season with favourable prices driven by high demand from China.

The South Australian fishery is split into a southern and northern zone. The southern zone season opened on October 1 while the northern zone begins on 1 November with both fisheries operating until 31 May, reported The Lead.

Ferguson Australia processes and markets about 450t of Southern Rock Lobster a year. It sells the majority of its catch to China, while small amounts are shipped to markets such as Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

Good returns

Managing director Andrew Ferguson said favourable weather, solid catches and strong demand had led to a “fantastic start overall” to the season with a landing price in China of between $99 and $140 per kilogram.

“It’s slightly up on last year, particularly at the start, and that’s mainly because of the supply into China,” Ferguson said.

He explained that Southern Rock Lobsters are in demand for celebratory functions and have been in the Chinese market since the 1980s.

The final portion of a 10% tariff on Australian lobsters in China will be scrapped on 1 January.

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will create a huge opportunity for locally produced seafood on the Chinese market.

Ferguson said the FTA would also allow Southern Rock Lobster exporters to get product into parts of China that were previously inaccessible.

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