There is downward pricing pressure on the value of New
Zealand's rock lobsters (pictured) because of an easing in
the Chinese economy. Photo from Niwa.
Crayfishers playing a waiting game in the hope demand
from China will help prices rise to last year's levels may be
waiting a long time.
That is the word from the country's biggest live lobster
(crayfish) exporter, the Fiordland Lobster Co, based in Te
Some crayfishers have told the Otago Daily Times they are
being offered $60 a kg for their catch, so have decided to
wait in the hope the price rises later in the year to the $80
they were getting last year.
Three years ago, it peaked at more than $100 a kg.
Fiordland Lobster sales and marketing general manager David
Prendergast said business had generally been "a lot harder"
"The key thing is that the [Chinese] economy is showing signs
of a slowdown and therefore the discretionary income in China
to spend on high-value items may be cut back in all sectors,
and obviously that will affect the demand for live lobster."
Mr Prendergast said the company was selling the same amount
of lobster as in previous years but there was "a little more
pressure" on pricing because of the Chinese slowdown.
Lobster is traded in United States dollars and Mr Prendergast
said the high level of the New Zealand dollar against the
greenback was another factor affecting returns for
crayfishers this year.
Mr Prendergast said he could accept crayfishers who were
paying $50 a kg to lease quota were keen for something about
the $80 a kg mark.
"But, realistically, are they going to get $80 later on?
"There is a world slowdown and that world slowdown is
affecting China.""People's discretionary income is tucked
away and therefore they become a bit more conservative.
"If they [crayfishers] are all sitting around waiting for $80
they could be waiting for a while."
Chairman of the crayfish management committee for much of the
South Island, Malcolm Lawson, said the "rule of thumb" for
crayfishers who leased quota at, for example $50 a kg, was
that they needed a $20 margin to make crayfishing worth their
His committee did not get involved with the commercial
aspects of the industry and was mostly concerned with
ensuring there were good stocks of crayfish, which there
That, Mr Lawson said, allowed fishers to pick and choose when
they caught their quota.
"Instead of having to aim to go out every day to fill their
quotas they are actually fishing to the markets.
"The fishers stop and start as the market prices and demand
dictate. And that is one thing about having an abundant
fishery. It provides the opportunity for them to do that."
Mr Lawson said it was generally acknowledged every 1c change
in the exchange rate represented a $1 a kg change in the
return to crayfishers.
Mr Prendergast said October was traditionally "the worst
month" in the annual marketing cycle for lobster after strong
demand in September in the lead-up to Chinese National Day on
October 1 and prior to demand created by Christmas and
particularly the Chinese New Year.