China has become the leading importer of New Zealand seafood, according to the latest fisheries and aquaculture production and trade figures.
The soon-to-be-defunct Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said the total value of fisheries and aquaculture exports for the year to December 2011 was up 2.9 percent on the previous year, at $1.53 billion.
China imported $299.6 million worth of New Zealand seafood, overtaking Australia for the first time. Their main imports are New Zealand live rock lobsters, hoki and squid.
The US is the third-largest importer of New Zealand seafood and Hong Kong fourth.
The total volume of seafood product exports increased marginally (0.5 percent) to 301.5 thousand tonnes. And aquaculture export volumes increased 3.8 percent to 45,031 tonnes while aquaculture export earnings increased 12 percent to $307.4 million.
Currently, aquaculture export species are limited to green-ipped mussels, salmon and oysters.