The Cray boat F.V Chieftain is docked at the Margate Wharf selling Crayfish that cannot be exported at this time due to an outbreak of Coronavirus. It is also the Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year so many of our Asian residents and visitors were there to pick up a bargain for their celebrations. Deck supervisor, Arie Jack Patrick is pictured with a couple of rock lobsters. Picture: MATT THOMPSON
The Cray boat F.V Chieftain is docked at the Margate Wharf selling Crayfish that cannot be exported at this time due to an outbreak of Coronavirus. It is also the Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year so many of our Asian residents and visitors were there to pick up a bargain for their celebrations. Deck supervisor, Arie Jack Patrick is pictured with a couple of rock lobsters. Picture: MATT THOMPSON

Hey, where’s our cheap lobster?

A STEEP fall in demand from China and other countries has seen Australian consumers able to buy rock lobster at very low prices for the last two weeks, but Northern Rivers residents have not been able to enjoy such delicacies.

The Ballina Fishermen’s Coop confirmed it does not have rock lobster in stock at the moment.

“We only stock it during Christmas,” a staff member said.

It was the same at Byron Bay’s Bay Seafood Market where no rock lobster was currently in stock.

Northern Rivers Seafood also confirmed not having any lobster available at the moment for sale.

Western Australian lobster catchers send an estimated 6500 tonne of rock lobster to China every year, particularly during Chinese New Year, but after the coronavirus outbreak, Western Australian cooperatives were forced sell these at reduced prices to other markets, including domestically.

The Australian reported today that some of the tonnes of live rock lobsters stranded in New Zealand after Chinese customers cancelled orders will be returned to the wild.

The move was part of measures to help rock lobster exporters hit by the sudden evaporation of demand from China, where the coronavirus epidemic has restricted the movement of millions of people and bought Lunar New Year celebrations to a standstill.

The New Zealand government estimates up to 180 tonnes of the spiny creatures were being held in pots and tanks at sea and on land after Chinese distributors cancelled orders. The trade is vital to a number of small fishing towns in New Zealand.

In Queensland, the Townsville Bulletin said the virtual shutdown in China of all fresh seafood markets has already seen the lowest mud crab prices to date, with commercial crabbers’ livelihoods at risk as they reportedly sell their catch for $30/kg less than what they normally would.

It’s the same for the Townsville tiger prawns industry and Bowen’s live coral trout sector, with all expecting a shutdown to last from four to six months at least.

The Chinese market has a strong emphasis on freshness, which has led to the development of markets for live seafood, such as coral trout and lobster.



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