Shellfish the festive favourite
Fishmonger Alcino Liongue at Festival Fish in North Perth. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Each Christmas Alcino Liongue sits down to a seafood lunch with his family.

After 30 years working at North Perth's Festival Fish, one might think the Timorese fishmonger would be sick of seafood, but it is quite the opposite.

"I love pink snapper and prawns, because you can cook them on the barbecue," he said.

Mr Liongue will be among thousands of WA people enjoying a seafood lunch this Christmas.

"Customers love red emperor, dhufish, salmon, crayfish and prawns," he said. "Christmas is definitely the busiest time of year."

Festival Fish owner Gavin Glauert said though shellfish is the highest seller at Christmas, rock lobster was being overtaken as the prime crustacean.

"Crayfish are very popular but they are pricing themselves out of the market," he said.

"Ten years ago they were selling for $5 each, but now they are $25. Prawns are getting used a lot more than they were 20 years ago."

He said the State Government's rock lobster quota system, introduced in 2009, drove prices up.

Phil Cook of Drovers Fish Market in Wanneroo said WA families paid less than their Sydney counterparts for lobster. "Lobster is more than $100 a kilogram in Sydney - they have a similar quota system to us," he said.

WA consumers can expect to pay up to $60/kg.

Mr Cook said oysters' popularity had exploded in recent years. "We sell hundreds of thousands of oysters at Christmas time and sales keep increasing," he said.

Prawns are tipped to be the most popular seafood at Christmas time in major supermarkets.

A Coles spokeswoman said the retailer expected to sell close to 800 tonnes of prawns throughout Australia during the festive season. This accounts for about 40 per cent of the entire year's prawn sales. Woolworths expects to sell a similar amount of prawns, with 1000 tonnes available through the holiday period.

Many fish markets are open longer tomorrow - Christmas Eve is the busiest retail day of the year for fishmongers.

The West Australian

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