China’s shock ban on Australian lobsters

Posted by Josette Dunn on 1st December 2010

Australia’s half billion dollar lobster industry is reeling after hearing that China will no longer accept Australian lobsters, pending further trade negotiations.Up to 80 per cent of our catch is usually sent to China and the recent embargo has seen prices for lobster plummet.  The industry says losses will be severe if the two week ban continues. Exporters say the problem could be solved if Australia’s troubled attempts at a free trade agreement with China came to fruition.

The ban started in Hong Kong two weeks and since Sunday has been extended to include direct imports into Shanghai and Beijing.

The chief executive of Regional Development Australia on the Limestone Coast, Grant King, says the industry is remaining positive that the halt will be lifted.

“We will work with the industry at the end of this season to work right through that supply chain and absolutely check that all of the processes are the way they ought to be and that we don’t suffer these interruptions into the future,” he said.

Lobster fisheries across Australia are suffering, with government officials doing whatever they can to minimise the financial losses.  SA Fisheries Minister Michael O’Brien says he will extend the commercial lobster season by a month if the situation with China is not resolved quickly.

200 tonnes of catch is now stranded in Tasmania.  Rodney Treloggen, Chief Executive of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fisherman’s Association said “what we know is our processors over here are full of product, we’ve got lobsters everywhere in tanks and on fishing boats that they can’t sell. We’re doing everything we can to find out why we’re unable send in through the normal channels. This far exceeds anything we’ve experienced before.”

Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett says the Primary Industries and Water Minister, Bryan Green, has contacted the Federal Government “to find channels through to the Chinese officials that have made this decision,” he said.

“The minister is also meeting this afternoon with representatives of the rock lobster fishery to ensure that we put into action as soon as possible a plan to alleviate this problem.”