Rainforest Seafoods Limited shipped off their first orders of 2,000 live lobsters to China via air this week.
The shipment is bound for Shenzhen.
“Consumers in mainland China will pay top dollar for their lobsters alive. Therefore, it is critical to ensure the best quality and the strongest animals are exported,” said Rainforest Business Development Manager Max Jardim as the lobsters were being crated for travel.
“Naturally, the best-quality lobster is supplied by our Jamaican fisherfolk who go to sea in the morning and return in the evening,” he said.
Rainforest Seafoods is the first Jamaican company to export this type of seafood to that region of China. The company is hoping to export one ton of live lobsters per week.
Jardim said there were some regulatory issues that Rainforest was working through with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries (MICAF), to further unlock the earning potential of seafood.
MICAF has been accommodating throughout the discussions and willing to facilitate the company, once food-safety standards were kept at paramount concern, he said.
Exporting live lobsters is a complex process, Jardim explained, requiring close collaboration
with suppliers, as well as training programmes and the supply of equipment to improve the handling of the lobsters.
Rainforest has also been working with Waterwheel Estate in Jamaica for the past two years to get the specifications right.
“To further prepare and strengthen the animals for export, we must stabilise them in our state-of- the-art saltwater tanks prior to export. The lobsters are held at very specific cold temperatures and place under a strict monitoring programme before shipping out to ensure only the best quality is exported,” said Jardim.
“There’s a science, and our team in charge of this aspect is the best on island,” he added.
The lobsters departed from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on Monday, and were transferred via Toronto’s WestJet airlines.
Rainforest is working with other airlines in the meantime “to find better routes,” Jardim said.
The shipment was witnessed by MICAF Minister Audley Shaw, who described it as the beginning of a transitioning of the blue economy, while urging others to capitalise on deep-sea fishing.