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Rock lobster export trade alive and kicking.

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Home | Media Releases DAFF05/019WT - 9 February 2005

Rock lobster export trade alive and kicking

On the eve of Chinese New Year, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is busy helping with the export of more than $75 million worth of live rock lobsters from South Australia's south east region to China, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said today.

These fierce-looking little creatures are, in total export dollar terms, Australia's most valuable live undersea commodity, with almost all of the south east's quota of 1,900 tonnes being sent overseas.

Mr Truss said the majority is exported to Hong Kong and other destinations with large Chinese communities, where the crustacean is revered as a special occasion delicacy, especially for the upcoming Year of the Rooster celebrations.

"The export of rock lobsters to Asia is becoming more valuable to Australia each year and AQIS inspectors are busy processing exports for the weeks of celebrations for Chinese New Year when demand traditionally peaks," Mr Truss said.

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service's fish program certifies exports from 15 seafood processors in South Australia's south east. This market is worth $75 million directly and almost $190 million to the region in flow-on effects.

The value of the catch has grown 78 per cent since 1990. It complements other important export earners from the region, including sheep meat and seeds from Bordertown, beef from Naracoorte, and dairy products from Mount Gambier.

Mr Truss said East Asia has been an established market for the seafood industry for some time and opportunities exist to service the higher-end of the market as consumers enjoy their newly-emerging affluence.

"The Australian Government is supporting this important export trade by providing an inspection and certification service to meet importing country requirements and providing export advice to local businesses. AQIS provides a 40 per cent subsidy on inspections to rock lobster exporters.

"AQIS traditionally has a strong presence in South Australia's south east. The potential for export growth through the value-adding of products

means that robust link will continue in this region," Mr Truss said.

Media Opportunity - Inspect live rock lobster exports at Five Star Seafoods at 9-11 Standish St, Pt MacDonell at 10.30am on Wednesday 9 February.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Kylie Butler - 02 6277 7520 or 0417 652 488 AQIS: Mark McKay - 0407 720 150

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