Tempting Victorian lobsters going cheap ahead of Christmas as China’s ban continues

Consumers have a second chance of serving half-priced lobsters this Christmas, with the Chinese market remaining closed to exports.

Key points: Victorian rock lobsters are expected to be the cheapest in six years this Christmas Before the ban, Victoria exported 97 per cent of its lobster catch to ChinaThe seafood industry is surveying consumers on their knowledge of Victoria's seafood

China first imposed the import ban on Australian rock lobster in November 2020, and that has pushed the price per kilo to the lowest point in six years, as the industry searched for alternative export markets. 

Matthew Harry, a fisherman at San Remo near Phillip Island, said despite a challenging two years, the industry was optimistic about the start of the season which kicked off today. 

"With lockdowns seemingly over in Victoria and New South Wales the market is slowly picking up," Mr Harry said. 

Fishing boat docked in harbour with fishing nets and lobster pots.
Victoria's San Remo region is a prime fishing spot for Australian red rock lobster. (Supplied: Matthew Harry )

Victorians would be able to buy a red lobster for around $70 per kilo this year, compared to its usual $140 per kilo. 

"Hopefully the domestic market can enjoy a more affordable lobster and don't wait until Christmas until you order them, because as demand increases the price goes up." 

Victoria's red lobster industry harvests around 322 tonnes per year, and around 97 per cent of the country's lobsters had previously been sent live to China. 

Close up of Fresh Australian rock lobster.
Prices for rock lobster have halved to $70/kg since the Chinese ban was imposed 12 months ago.(ABC: Bec Whetham)

And while the future of Australia's trade with China remained foggy, Mr Harry believed it was a good opportunity to diversify the industry's international markets. 

"As international flights start to open, there's more opportunity to send lobsters to Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and even getting markets into the United States which happened for a long time," Mr Harry said.

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Consumer survey on Victorian seafood

Seafood Industry Victoria launched a survey to learn more about how people consume seafood and what might be stopping them from having it more often. 

Independent chair Joanne Butterworth-Gray said it appeared Australians had limited knowledge of Victorian seafood and the industry hoped this season would encourage more people to buy locally caught fish and crustaceans. 

"So once we know what consumers think, we can then target our education and promotion in a way that addresses what the public needs or wants," Ms Butterworth-Gray said. 

"[The survey] is really to find out how much Victorians know about the type of seafood and species … that is available and comparing it to imported seafood." 

Posted 3h ago3 hours agoTue 16 Nov 2021 at 4:19am, updated 3h ago3 hours agoTue 16 Nov 2021 at 4:32amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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