Prawns hot for Christmas
WHILE many of us love a hot roast lunch, there's nothing more classically Australian than a Christmas feast of prawns.
Ballina Fisherman's Co-op retail sales manager Alister Robertson said the hot Australian climate made prawns a popular choice at Christmas.
"It's definitely the weather," he said.
"I lived in London for seven years and the tradition over there is to eat hot, stodgy and warming food, whereas in Australia you have the option of eating seafood, which is light and tasty."
The Ballina Co-op has begun taking pre-orders for prawns in the lead-up to Christmas.
Mr Robertson said small, medium and large king prawns were popular and he also had school prawns sourced from the Clarence River in stock.
"The school prawns are the famous ones," he said.
"People love them because they are very sweet."
And while a roast pork can take hours of preparation, Mr Robertson said prawns were a no-fuss option for busy Christmas cooks.
"If Mums are preparing Christmas lunch for the family, what's easier than whacking a couple of kilos of prawns in the middle of the table and letting everyone else do the hard work," he laughed.
However, there was a negative aspect to the rising popularity of seafood, with prices rising at Christmas to meet demand.
The male spanner crab season begins four days before Christmas and the store also supplies sand crabs, oysters, Balmain bugs and Moreton Bay bugs.
However, prawn supplies were limited around Evans Head, the manager of the town's Fisherman's Co-op, Geoff O'Rourke, said.
"Supplies are terrible. I've got no idea what's going on but I think it's skinny everywhere all up and down the coast."
The Evans co-op sold fish fresh from local trawlers working from Ballina to the Clarence River.
It was believed an overgrowth of weeds had limited the start of the Clarence River prawn season.
With Christmas just weeks away, Mr O'Rourke said stocks needed to improve quickly.
"I'm hoping it picks up for Christmas because it's one of the biggest times of the year, along with Easter, and we need the sales," he said.
The local seafood trade also had to compete with cheap imported seafood from Asia.
While Asian seafood may be cheaper, the Australian industry had to work within more stringent environmental controls.
Mr Robertson said he was confident shoppers would support the local industry this Christmas.
"I would say to people to support your local industry and pay a little bit extra for a far superior product," he said.