July 3, 2008

D Lobster Delights De Chinese Diners

By FRASER, Bruce in Te Anau

FIORDLAND rock lobsters and Fiordland fishermen are both thriving following the recovery of the species from a long decline.

Fiordland Lobster Company chief executive officer Mike Schuck said that winter, the region's main fishing period, was going very well.

Prices were high, catches were excellent and most fishermen had been able to upgrade or replace their boats.

The resurgence of the lobster fishery had resulted in a 28 percent increase in the annual quota for Fiordland and Southland to 1053 tonnes at April 1. His suppliers were reporting fish were so plentiful that they were able to return to the sea all but the highest-priced mid-weight grades, he said.

Very large and small legal lobsters were now routinely returned to the water to grow or breed.

Fishermen had learned a lot about sustainability from the fishery's slump in the 1990s and were acutely conscious of the need to protect the recovering population.

The high live lobster export prices that made such selective fishing possible resulted from economic growth in China, which had become the company's main market, Mr Schuck said.

In April Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced the daily limit on red cod caught by recreational fishers in the southern and eastern South Island was to be cut from 30 to 10 red cod per fisher per day, owing to declining numbers.

However, at the same time Mr Anderton increased the commercial catch limits for rock lobster (crayfish) in the Southland fishery by nearly 211 tonnes to 1053 tonnes. In the Otago fishery, the limit rose by 3.7 tonnes to 143.9 tonnes.


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