An adult red rock lobster. Photo by John McKoy Niwa.
The Chinese New Year, on February 10, has lifted the
crayfishing industry out of the doldrums.
In October, crayfishers were lamenting prices that were
barely above the cost of leasing quota.
Several told the Otago Daily Times they were holding
off catching their quota in the hope prices would improve.
A check yesterday revealed prices are now more in line with
what crayfishers considered economic to go fishing for.
In October, crayfishers - paying about $50 a kg to lease
quota - were being offered about $60 a kg for their catch.
This month, they have been receiving up to $78kg for the best
quality fish and down to $58 for lower grades.
Alan Buckner, chief executive of the country's biggest live
lobster exporter, the Fiordland Lobster Company, based in Te
Anau, said yesterday the week-long Chinese New Year
celebration was again boosting demand and prices.
''January's been a good month for the guys and they've
achieved good pricing almost all the way through January.
''We think that sort of pricing level will be maintained into
early February but then it is likely to drop off once the
major Chinese New Year event has been completed.''
Mr Buckner said his company considered the Chinese economy
was ''still strong'' and he could see a good long-term demand
for New Zealand lobster [crayfish].
New Zealand lobster was regarded as a ''premium food'' in
China and during celebrations ''a lot of our lobster is put
on the banquet tables''.
Mr Buckner said the high level of the American dollar was
He considered the average price over the year, with peaks
during various Chinese celebrations, made fishing
South Westland crayfisher Barry Horne, who owns three tonnes
of crayfish quota and leases three tonnes, said the improved
prices were for mainly smaller fish, rather than the bigger
fish typical of the Jackson Bay area where he fished.
He said the price being offered for some categories of
crayfish was still below the lease price and he considered it
was still ''pretty hard going'' for a lot of crayfishers
because of ''high lease rates''.
The new quota year begins on April 1 and Mr Horne said it was
around that time leases were negotiated.
He said it was too early to say what the new lease prices
''There's the feeling out there that the lease price is not
going to be any lower, because a lot of the fish is owned by
investors and they reckon they are not going to take any
''But the thing is, the fish is no good to them if they can't
get anyone to catch it.
''So if people refuse to catch it, they've got to play