Tasmania's peak body for lobster fishers hopes an import issue at a Chinese airport is resolved quickly with the state's season opening in the coming weeks.
Tonnes of live lobsters - exported from South Australia and Western Australia - were reportedly left at a customs clearance house for an extended period over the weekend, raising concerns the product could spoil.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been investigating the incident, which was believed to be caused by an increased level of inspection in China.
Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association chief executive officer John Sansom said these "glitches in the market" were not unusual, but he hoped it was resolved soon.
"Our season isn't open yet so we haven't been affected, but we do open in a fortnight so we're hoping it gets resolved by then," he said.
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"Some of the lobsters have since gone through customs and, as far as I know, we're waiting for Chinese customs to make some statements today about it.
"We're maintaining a watching brief and hope it gets resolved."
Tasmania's rock lobster industry is heavily reliant upon the Chinese market, which accounts for the vast majority of its trade.
Mr Sansom could not comment on concern that the issue was another sign of weakening trade relations between Australia and China.
"It's nothing unusual for import and export countries to want to test some of the product that comes in and out, and that's my understanding of what's happening here," he said.
The Tasmanian industry "fell off a cliff" in January following mass cancellations from Chinese buyers as the country responded to its COVID-19 outbreak with strict lockdowns.
Since then, prices have remained low but the industry has still been able to operate.
Mr Sansom said the Australian Government's commitment to International Freight Assistance Mechanism flights until next June should offer the rock lobster industry some reprieve through the summer.
"We've managed to catch half the quota over the winter period and with the assistance of IFAM flights from the federal government, we're getting them exported," he said.
Lack of Australia-China communication causing issues
In an interview on the ABC this morning, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said there had been "sufficient delays" and the government was trying to get a better understanding of the issue, however a lack of communication between the Australian and Chinese governments was making matters difficult.
"It's well known that my Chinese counterpart has not been too willing to take calls, or engage in direct Ministerial level dialogue," he said.
"But our diplomatic and agriculture officials have both been at work on this, trying to help the industry in terms of understanding precisely what sort of new checks are being put in place.
"If these are checks that industry can work with, well of course the Australian industry will then get on and work with them and resume the trade as quickly as possible, we would hope."