- Better Choice
- Eastern rock lobsters are caught using baited pots deployed over sand and reef habitats, and by hand collection by divers. The methods result in low levels of bycatch and damage to habitats.
- The eastern rock lobster stock has been rebuilt to healthy levels over the last decade following historic overfishing and is being managed carefully to support future resilience.
- There are some minor concerns about evidence of some non compliance in the fishery, and the impacts of a valuable black markets.
- The fishery does not pose a threat to vulnerable or endangered species.
Rocklobster is highly regarded for its firm, sweet and succulent flesh. Boil or steam whole lobsters and allow to cool before picking all of the meat from the tail and legs. Kitchen scissors can make this a bit easier. Meat can be dressed and served in a salad or seafood cocktail, or tossed through pasta, risotto or egg-noodles. To impress, serve it in the shell by splitting lobsters lengthwise and cooking shell-side down on a BBQ, in a steamer or in a hot oven. Simply top with a little butter, salt and lemon and you’re ready to serve! Leftover shells can be sautéed and turned into a delicious shellfish stock, soup or a traditional seafood stew such as a bouillabaisse or bisque, ensuring that you get the most out of your Rocklobster.
- NSW Rock Lobster Fishery (173t in 2019/20)
Eastern rock lobster are found throughout southeastern Australian (from southern QLD to eastern SA) and northern New Zealand waters and are fished commercially in NSW waters. Eastern rock lobster are found over rocky reefs and adjacent sand, and some of the stock migrates annually from subtidal reefs to the continental shelf break in waters up to around 200m depth .
The NSW eastern rock lobster fishery is considered well-managed and in a healthy condition. The fishery appears fully rebuilt from historic overfishing. Managers and industry have kept catches low to help build resilience in the fishery.
The hand collection method of fishing results in no bycatch of protected species. For the pot method, low levels of whale and turtle bycatch occur but there is confidence that no impact at a population level is occurring. Mitigation measures are in pace to reduce the chance of protected species being caught, which includes an industry-developed code of conduct.
The fishery catches a range of retained byproduct and species which it discards including octopus, finfish and sharks ( wobbegong and draughtboard sharks). Fishers are allowed to retain species (unless it’s a protected species or under the size limit) when lawfully fishing for lobsters in waters deeper than 10m.The bulk of the byproduct catch is ocean jacket. This species is not considered overfished by AMCS and the volume caught in the rock lobster fishery is not thought to pose a sustainability risk.
There have been instances of non compliance within the fishery in recent years and it is subject to black market poaching, although there are appropriate legislative and policy frameworks in place to mitigate risks. Recent management initiatives to reduce the discarding of undersize lobsters by limiting fishing effort om deeper waters are welcome.
Pots are required to be constructed from biodegradable materials and so the fishery is considered to be a low risk to habitats.
Marine parks in NSW State waters provide a small but significant degree of protection for habitats and bycatch species, however, at the time of writing, the NSW Department of Primary Industries was considering opening marine reserves to fishing.