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Western Rock Lobster Market Report | April 2020



As some demand for western rock lobster slowly re-emerges and fishing gradually resumes, it is worth considering what some recent data releases demonstrate about the industry effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The quantitative information now becoming available is generally consistent with industry reports, and provides a stark illustration of just how severe the impacts have been. Please read on for information about China imports for the first quarter of 2020 and western rock lobster catches for the 2020/2021 season to date. Also included in the markets reporting is a brief look at the economic conditions and outlook in China.


China import data for the first quarter of 2020

Data from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) provides an illustration of the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been having on the international trade in lobster. More detail regarding the international trade in lobster, including China imports, will be presented in the forthcoming WRL publication, An overview of global lobster production and international trade: 2020 edition.

Note that GACC does not provide international trade data for the months of January and February separately. WRL has apportioned data for the combined January–February period, using monthly export data from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Stats NZ.


Western Rock Lobster Catch Data for the 2020/2021 Season to Date

The ‘Catch Balance Graph By Zone (Warehouse)’ report is prepared twice monthly by DPIRD, most recently on 28 April. It provides information on entitlement landed within the West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery (WCRLMF), aggregated on a monthly and zonal basis. Please note that the data presented do not necessarily represent all fishing activity for the period, particularly with reference to delays in receiving and entering catch data from fishers and processors. Regarding the figures for April 2020, an eventual revision of 20–25 per cent would not be at all inconsistent with the historical pattern of revisions. If you have any queries in relation to the report, please e-mail or contact the Rock Lobster Help Line 1300 574 071.

WCRLMF landed catch, monthly


WCRLMF landed catch, monthly, northern zones


WCRLMF landed catch, monthly, Zone C




China Economic Conditions and Outlook

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published its quarterly World Economic Outlook report, including the following commentary regarding China:

[I]n China, industrial production, retail sales, and fixed asset investment dropped dramatically in January and February. The extended Lunar New Year holidays, gradual reopening of nonessential businesses across the country, and low demand for services as a result of social distancing imply a significant loss of working days and a severe contraction in first-quarter economic activity. (p. 2) …the contraction in economic activity in the first quarter could have been about 8 percent year over year. Even with a sharp rebound in the remainder of the year and sizable fiscal support, the economy is projected to grow at a subdued 1.2 per cent in 2020. (p. 5)

From the previous edition of the World Economic Outlook (January 2020), the IMF revised the forecast growth rate for 2021 from 5.8 per cent to 9.2 per cent. However, this does not signify an improvement in economic prospects for 2021. In fact, the IMF slightly reduced its forecast for economic output in 2021. Instead, the revision in the forecast growth for 2021 reflects the impact of lowered expectations for 2020.

China economic growth, IMF forecast
China economic output, IMF forecast


Further details of the IMF’s view on the China economy and outlook are expected to become available sometime in May.

Since the release of the IMF World Economic Outlook, the China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released preliminary figures for economic output during the first quarter of 2020. Year-on-year growth for the quarter was negative 6.8 per cent (broadly in line with the estimate by the IMF). Of particular relevance to our industry, the NBS figure for the accommodation and restaurant sector represented a year-on-year decline of 35 per cent for the quarter.