China is the leading importer of New Zealand seafood, buying $299.6 million of it last year.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry figures released today show fisheries and aquaculture exports for the calendar year to 31 December 2011 were up 2.9 per cent on the previous year, to NZ$1.53 billion.

China overtook Australia as the lead importer, its main imports being live rock lobster, hoki and squid. The United States was the third-largest importer, with Hong Kong fourth.