Bumper lobster catch to meet strong demand

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/10/2013

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The southern rock lobster industry is celebrating a record monthly catch.

CRA8 management committee chief executive Malcolm Lawson said September had the largest amount of rock lobsters landed in the CRA8 quota management area in any one month for at least 15 years.

"September had been a huge month for the industry," Mr Lawson said.

The total rock lobster landed for September, traditionally the industry's busiest month, was 243.7 tonnes.

This compared with seasonal highs of 160 tonnes in September 2012, 169.4 tonnes in September 2011 and 134.7 tonnes in 2010, Mr Lawson said. The next-highest recorded catch was 242.3 tonnes in September 2000.

The September catch represented 25 per cent of the CRA8 total allowable commercial catch (TACC) of 962 tonnes for the 2013-14 fishing year.

"I have records for the last 15 years and this total eclipses any monthly record over this time," Mr Lawson said yesterday.

He said there were two main reasons for the bumper catch last month.

The healthy state of the CRA8 fishery was a big factor and strong demand and attractive prices from the market kept fishermen out on the water, he said.

Rock lobster was the highest value fish species exported from New Zealand with China the biggest international market, Mr Lawson said. The full pots and demand from China helped southern lobster companies and fishermen cash in on their catch.

Fiordland Lobster Company chief executive Alan Buckner said it had been a record month for the company.

"We exported more lobster than ever before this September," he said.

The strong demand from China for its National Day on October 1 was reflected in good market prices versus September 2012 and meant the company could pass that onto its fishermen.

Ngai Tahu Seafood chief executive Brian Moriarty said September did not yield a record catch for the company but it had been a great month.

"It's very positive news for the fishery and the industry to hear it was the best September catch in 15 years," he said.

New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council executive officer Daryl Sykes said prices for premium grade rock lobsters throughout New Zealand this season ranged between $60-$80 per kilogram. For small quality specialist orders it was possible to add $10 more per kilogram.

The exchange rate of the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar in September was also favourable, he said.

The CRA8 industry had invested considerable sums of money in improving presentation and quality of the southern rock lobsters, Mr Sykes said.

"The southern rock lobster is now a premium brand in the market," he said. 

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- The Southland Times

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