Industry size and economic value

2019/20 season catch

Rock lobster landings in the 2019/20 season were an estimated 2,750 tonnes, the bulk of which was destined for the Asian live lobster market, with an average export value of greater than NZ$340 million. Domestic sales account for approximately 100 tonnes of the annual production.

Exports in 2019/20 were disrupted by the COVID-19 situation and quantities and values are expected to slowly recover in the 2020/21 fishing year commencing April 2020.

Individual transferable quota shares

The 100 million individual transferable quota shares (ITQ) for each of the nine rock lobster fisheries are distributed amongst 442 CRA (rock lobster) quota share owners and 58 PHC (packhorse lobster) quota share owners.

Most CRA shares have traded in recent seasons at the equivalent of $1,000,000 per tonne. Share ownership is progressively aggregating to Iwi and corporate ownership.

CRA annual catch entitlement

There are currently 2,800 tonnes of CRA annual catch entitlement (ACE) distributed amongst approximately 326 permit holders over the nine CRA management areas and PHC1. 

Two large lobsters!

The average value of ACE across all nine areas in the 2019/20 fishing year was in the order of $55,000 per tonne. For PHC it was $40,000 per tonne.

Commercial fishing fleet

Approximately 253 vessels commercially fish rock lobsters. The average investment in vessel, pots and ancillary gear is estimated at more than $650,000 per fishing operation.

Operator investment

In addition to the investment in ITQ/ACE, fishing vessels and gear, there is significant investment in lobster processing and export facilities which must be constructed and maintained to rigid health, hygiene, and export certification standards.

Economic impacts

Statistics NZ has previously noted 2,400 people directly and indirectly employed in the rock lobster industry. In addition to these, our industry supports an extensive network of manufacturing, engineering, electronics, and provedoring businesses in the regions.

The population of industry personnel in rural areas not only contributes to the economic infrastructure, but also underpins school rolls and community services organisations such as rural fire brigades, search and rescue, sporting and social groups.