About 75 percent of the economy of the Tristan Islanders is based on fishing for Tristan lobsters, Jasus tristani, the market for which has just been expanded significantly. Ovenstone Agencies, the South African company that is licensed to control the catching and processing of the lobsters in the waters around the Tristan Islands, made a significant announcement last week.

Tristan lobsterThe company announced that the European Union has approved its plans to sell the rock lobsters in markets throughout its member states. The full range of the company’s lobster products will be offered in EU markets beginning in November 2014. The importance of this development for the Tristan people is that the fishing company is by far the largest employer on the island.

Ovenstone processes, on average, 400 metric tons of lobsters per year. At present, it sells the various lobster products to markets in the U.S., Australia, and Japan. The fishery was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council in June 2011, a milestone for the company and the islanders who work for it. The approval to market products in the EU is another important step forward.

Andrew James, the Managing Director for Ovenstone, said in his company news release, “We are delighted that the Tristan lobster will soon start appearing on menus throughout the EU.” He continued in less than modest fashion: “These are the most exceptional lobsters in every sense and while we could easily supply the entire annual harvest to our current markets, it has long been our ambition to offer our product to the European market.”

Mr. James continued in his press release that his company has been hounded for years by European food distributors to gain approval for distribution rights from the EU. He expresses hope that the reception for Tristan lobsters in Europe will be favorable.

Another news report on this development last week indicated that, due to the remote location of the Tristan archipelago, Tristan lobsters are only sold in frozen formats: Whole Cooked Frozen Lobster, Whole Raw Frozen Lobster, Sashimi Grade Lobster, Raw Frozen Lobster Tails, and Raw Frozen Lobster Heads.