The National Rock Lobster Management Group strategic vision includes the provision for management strategies that “… will enable all sector groups to maximise their benefits within a shared fishery”.
The rock lobster industry clearly places great emphasis on maximising the economic benefit that can be derived from its share of the available yield (the TACC). This economic benefit accrues to the industry and to the community at large.
Given the reliance on the export market for live and processed lobsters, the New Zealand industry is vulnerable to the application of tariff barriers by potential market nations. The NZ/China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) constituted a potentially significant advantage to New Zealand lobster exporters.
Foreign exchange fluctuations have a significant impact on the price paid to fishermen for export grade rock lobsters. To maintain profitability, industry has been required to be:
- increasingly efficient in harvesting
- continuously focused on quality standards and market preferences
- constantly aware of domestic costs of production.
An NZ RLIC initiative to investigate ‘eco label’ options was a response to the changing circumstances in New Zealand’s traditional live lobster markets. Discerning consumers’ awareness of environmental and sustainability considerations holds the prospect for the New Zealand rock lobster industry to develop niche boutique markets for this premium seafood product.
However, the more immediate impetus could come from food safety and bio-security standards which distinguish New Zealand seafood in markets.
Coordinating industry responses
The NZ RLIC has facilitated the establishment of a rock lobster export reference group – Lobster Export New Zealand (LENZ) – to enable a properly coordinated ‘whole of industry’ response to market and market-related issues.