The rocklobster industry was the most valuable seafood industry in Australia valued in excess of $550 million per annum in 2001-02. An estimated $200 million per annum has been lost nationally in the last 3 years from the market value of Australian rocklobster due solely to a decline in market price.
The major Australian rocklobster industries face a number of common national and international marketing issues. Specifically if informed market development investments are to be made at the sector level, the following need to be canvassed, understood and addressed:
1. the benefits and costs of market development based on regional, State, species, and national approaches
2. the value of accreditation and options for establishing traceability
3. cultured lobster – opportunity or threat
4. the benefits and costs of syndicating market development activities with other seafood sectors
5. the benefits and costs of linking with other food and beverage sectors
6. linkages with SEA, NAC and NFIS in relation to market development and
7. industry market development structures, funding and management.
In summary there is an immediate need for funding support to the national rocklobster industry to deal with a series of important market related issues if it is to effectively engage in a range of local and national initiates which will be finalised in 2005.
A restructured Congress presents as the ideal vehicle to deal with these strategic challenges. The opportunity exists in 2005 if cost effective and operationally feasible, to link with Seafood Directions.
Two years on from Congress 3 in Fremantle 2003, lobster prices are 30% lower, the SA Northern Zone has adopted quota, lobster propagation is developing and product quality is a given in markets. As well, lobster markets, marketing, market development, Marine Stewardship Certification, supply chain standards, national seafood promotions, country of origin labeling, European Seafood Expo and the National Food Industry Strategy, are all opportunities for national lobster industries.
The Congress posed the questions “Should the industry work together on these opportunities and if so which ones and how?”
The Congress was hosted by the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association in conjunction with Southern Rocklobster Limited, with support from industry in each lobster producing state. The location was Hobart and the Congress was held from 11th – 13th October, 2005.
The Congress was also important for the dissemination of information from the FRDC Rocklobster post harvest and Rocklobster enhancement and aquaculture subprograms and on key marketing issues. Presentations were made by 21 speakers, with over 170 people attending various parts of the program.
The key message from the Congress was that action is required that would involve the respective Australian State rocklobster industries, as well as the NZ industry, and communication should be upgraded and formalised through the engagement of the industry executive officers and members across Australasia.