News and opinion

Western Australia rock lobster: 15 years of sustainable fishing

May 6, 2015

Western Australian rock lobster fishermen Fedele (Phil) Camarda, Fedele J Camarda and Joseph Camarda.

Western Australian rock lobster fishermen Fedele (Phil) Camarda, Fedele J Camarda and Joseph Camarda.

In March 2000, Western Australia rock lobster became the first MSC certified fishery in the world. 15 years later, the fishery is thriving and continues to manage its stocks sustainably.

Collaboration and a belief in the ‘long game’ have helped make Western Australia rock lobster a true sustainable success story. As well as meeting all the conditions of MSC certification, the fishery has worked in close consultation with the Government of Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries.

Operating with strict quotas, seasonal closures, minimum size requirements and a ban on catching breeding females has ensured the ongoing livelihoods of the lobster fishers.

Furthermore, this pioneering fishery has:

  • Reduced the environmental impacts of lobster fishing, including making changes which have prevented sea lions from interacting with fishing gear.
  • Led the way for other Western Australian fisheries, all of which have the opportunity to pursue independent assessment to the MSC standard with state government support.

Western rock lobster remains the most valuable single-species wild capture fishery in Australia with products predominantly sold to China with a smaller domestic market. The fishery includes about 250 vessels and the total allowable commercial catch in 2013-14 was 5,554 tonnes with an export value of $358 million.

The hard work and forward thinking of this fishery has led to both environmental and commercial triumph. They are leaders for a living ocean and we wish them continued success.

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