TASTY: Patrick Combettes from Fisheries on the Spit at Mooloolaba is ready for the Christmas rush with a fresh catch of prawns.
TASTY: Patrick Combettes from Fisheries on the Spit at Mooloolaba is ready for the Christmas rush with a fresh catch of prawns. Warren Lynam

Why buying Christmas prawns early is no longer a 'must'

DANNY Gleeson walked into Mooloolaba Fish Market yesterday afternoon to secure his Christmas bounty of wild-caught king prawns, but turned on his heel minutes later.

"They're open 38 hours straight from 6am on 23rd," he said. "That's really good service to be able to have fresh prawns on Christmas morning, all ready to go."

Mr Gleeson will buy cooked prawns for shelling and eating cold and as part of his wife's famous prawn pasta dish in a few days, he said.

"My daughter used to love having a hot Christmas lunch, but my son likes the cold one which is great and saves a lot of work," he said.

He said over the years, he felt prawn quality had improved and this year's offerings were no disappointment.

The Gleeson family's Christmas Day prawns will be among 240 million consumed by Australians this year - that's 11 per person.

While prawns from any of the local sellers are unlikely to run out, costs "off the boat" are increasing, making it more difficult for local fish mongers to make a dollar, Seafood Market Caloundra manager Matt Taylor said.

This season was "on par" with last years in terms of size and quality, he said, but it was always a struggle to find enough large king and tiger prawns - the crowd favourites.

Fisheries on the Spit's Patrick Combettes said the catch this year was "not huge" but there would be no risk of running out.

Customers had been turning up to buy frozen prawns and avoid the queues, but from Thursday the shop would get busy, he said.

About 20 staff would cater to the demand, and this year customers having to wait up to 20 minutes would have the shade of a marquis and be offered bottles of water, Mr Combettes said.

Seafood retailers agreed the sound of cash registers ringing made the busiest days of the year worth it.

PRICE ROUND-UP

Seafood Market Caloundra

Medium: $33-35, Large: $38-40

Fisheries on the Spit*

Medium: $35.50, Large: $40.50 *prices set

Mooloolaba Fish Market*

Medium: $25, Large: $37 *prices fluctuate

Noosa Harbour Fish Market

Medium: $39.90, Large: $39.90


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