The new season of Aussie Lobster Men reveals the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Australia’s lobster market and the people whose livelihood depends on it
They’ve faced natural adversaries, mechanical failures, and danger that knows no bounds – but nothing quite like this. The new season of Aussie Lobster Men begins with a bang, as the global COVID-19 pandemic sends the rock lobster game into a spin. It’s an unprecedented time for the industry, and strategy and skill are crucial to not making a profit, but simply making ends meet. Along Australia’s deadliest stretch of ocean, the Southern Ocean, teams new and old brave challenges and uncertainty to stay afloat. And – for the first time – a new crew joins the plight in Western Australia,
Fishing for rock lobster is a volatile business at best, but one that pays dividends in the name of the world’s most-prized seafood delicacy. More than eighty percent of all lobsters caught in Australia are exported live to China, but the deadly coronavirus pandemic has decimated the live export trade and sent the international lobster price plummeting from $110 per kilo last season to just $30 per kilo. Some lobster crews choose to keep their boat’s grounded to wait it out, while others are willing to roll the dice, risking their lives and livelihood.
In Tasmania, big personalities Brendan ‘Squizzy’ Taylor of The Bold Contender, Glenn ‘Snoody’ Jager of Ansons Bay, Paul ‘Cracker’ Jager of Kai Koura, and Danny Fox of The William Norling put their sea skills, buyer contacts and entrepreneurial spirit on the line to stay in business. And newcomer Bryce Way of the Ambrydacra completes the fleet; a greenhorn skipper and third-generation fisherman who only seven months ago quit his 9-to-5 and bought a boat to pursue his passion. Just how will he fare entering the fold at this difficult hour?
In Western Australia, high-powered jet boats navigate monster reef breaks and chase tonnes of smaller-sized lobsters, as Jay Barrett of the Corado joins this season with deckhands Matty and Robbie – all facing big decisions about their future at sea and in the market.
New lobster fishing techniques and unseen jeopardy are part and parcel of life in treacherous waters, but the captains are forced to be innovative to stay ahead of the curve. Meeting supply and demand, and their own personal targets, falls secondary to the flow-on effect of COVID-19, as the lobstermen sell their catch at port to tourists, restaurants and families to beat the wholesale price.
With medical emergencies, underwater predators, and unpredictable weather, a minor problem can turn deadly in a matter of minutes. One thing’s for sure, in this season of Aussie Lobster Men, only the toughest will survive.
Wednesdays from 5 August at 8:30pm on Discovery.