Boaties back out on water

Boaties back out on water

Dozens of professional lobster boats were due to put to sea from the region’s seven ports this morning (Thursday) as the 2022/23 Southern Zone season began at 6am.

This is well ahead of the customary starting date of October 1 with the skippers and deckhands setting almost 12,000 pots on the rocky ledges of the Southern Ocean.

Weather and sea conditions as well as market forces will determine how many of the 160 boats in the Southern Zone actually go to sea today.

The early season start and a 10% quota rollover mechanism are part of the State Government’s responses to the loss of the Chinese export market in 2020 as well as the impact of COVID.

Many local fishers averaged around $55 per kilogram during the 2021/22 season and industry insiders are hopeful of securing a similar opening price.

The Chinese market is still open to New Zealand fishers with returns currently well in excess of $100 per kilogram.

Upmarket eateries in the South East are keen to get freshly-caught lobsters back on their menus but are unlikely to quote the price of dishes until the first landings have been made.

Preparations for the season were disrupted by the mechanical failure of the straddle lift at the Beachport boatyard.

The boats had to be lifted by contracted cranes on to the slipway for return to the water.

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