Western Australia rock lobster
First certified in March 2000, recertified in December 2006 and again in March 2012.
Species: Rock Lobster (Panulirus cygnus)
Location: Coast of Western Australia from Cape Leeuwin to Shark Bay.
Fishing methods: Baited pots and traps
Number of fisheries: 1
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More about rock lobster
Western rock lobster occurs off the western coast of Australia, with the postlarval stages inhabiting the continental shelf from 1 to 200 metres in depth. The highest densities occur in waters less than 60 metres deep. The species, Panulirus cygnus, is a spiny lobster with long antennae. The older juveniles and adult lobsters (except 'whites') assume a reddish-purple colour with each moult. Its life cycle includes a long oceanic larval stage (about 9 months), 3-6 years juvenile stage in shallow reefs and then become available to the fishery.
Lobsters are harvested using baited pots and traps.
5,500mt of western rock lobster in 2010/2011
More about the fishery
The 2nd recertification covers the 250 lobster vessels operating in the fishery.
The fishery has strict requirements in place including seasonal closures, minimum size requirements and a ban on catching breeding females. Data on the fishery has been kept since the 1960s and enables fisheries scientists to predict catches accurately and ensure that controls are adequate to keep the fishery operating at sustainable levels. Commercial fishers, processors and the Western Australian government work closely together to preserve the fishery’s future.
The fishery recently moved from an input (effort control) to an output (catch quota) management system, which controls the amount of catch fishers are able to take during the commercial season. This decision was made in close consultation with the Department of Fisheries Western Australia because of below-average recruitment rates in the fishery in recent years, and has meant a significant reduction in the volume of lobster taken from the fishery – a reduction of almost half from the 2005/06 catch – to ensure the sustainability of the rock lobster stocks.
A consequence of the introduction of these quota management measures has been a significant reduction in the number of pots being used in the fishery, which in turn has significantly reduced the fishery’s impact on the surrounding ecosystem. The fishery has also introduced Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDS) to minimise the mortality of sea lions and banned the use of bait bands that can entangle marine animals.
Western Australia rock lobster is the most valuable single-species fishery in Australia at an estimated value of $200M per year. Products from this fishery are sold to markets in Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, the USA and Europe.