Southern Rock Lobster

Latin name: Jasus edwardsii

Common name: Lobster

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Southern rock lobster are caught in fisheries throughout southern Australia. The SA fishery accounts for around 50% of the total number caught.
  • Historically, stocks of southern rock lobster have been depleted in SA, VIC and TAS in previous years. There are ongoing concerns with the low number of young rock lobsters recorded.
  • Management actions have been put in place to reduce the catch of southern rock lobsters to protect rock lobsters in future.
  • Southern rock lobsters are caught in baited pots, which generally have a low impact on marine habitat and endangered wildlife.
  • In SA, measures introduced to protect Australian sea lions have been successful; in VIC, a code of practice is in place to reduce whale entanglements and interactions are low (1-2 per year). Minimal interactions with threatened species have been reported from TAS.
  • There is independent observation of all fisheries that verifies wildlife interactions reported in fishery logbooks.

More information

  • SA South Australian Rock Lobster Fishery (1,541t in 2016-17)
  • VIC Rock Lobster Fishery (262t in 2016-17)
  • TAS Rock Lobster Fishery (1,070t in 2015)

Southern rock lobster are fished throughout southern Australia, with the SA fishery taking around 50% of the entire catch of the species. Historically there have been concerns over the health of the population of southern rock lobsters in all fisheries, and high fishing pressure has led to population declines. Recruitment (which is a measure of the number of young lobsters that will grow to legal, fishable size in the future) is low in all fisheries, indicating that lower than usual numbers of young southern rock lobsters will be available for fishing in future. This is a significant concern that will require fisheries managers to reduce the take of lobsters to protect their stocks in the long-term.

Management actions to protect stocks have included reducing the number of rock lobsters caught, with evidence that stocks are rebuilding in some areas. For example in TAS, stock status information from 2012 suggests that the decline in stock in previous years had been arrested, though recruitment has continued to be low since then. In VIC, the rate of capture of lobsters (which is a measure used in fisheries science to assess the availability of the target species) has increased, suggesting that populations are healthy. However, low recruitment will cancel out these positive gains in the future should management actions fail to preserve stocks.

In SA, the capture rate of rock lobsters has declined in one zone of the fishery, indicating that too much fishing is occurring. Fishery managers have reduced the allowable catch of southern rock lobsters, although it is unclear if this will protect the population. Low recruitment is likely to exacerbate this issue in future.

Southern rock lobster is mainly caught in baited pots, a fishing method which generally has a low impact on endangered wildlife. In SA, the rock lobster fishery has addressed previous issues with threatened species interactions through the mandatory use of Sea Lion Excluder Devices (SLEDs) in pots. These prevent endangered juvenile Australian sea lions becoming caught in lobster traps, and have proved to be highly effective at reducing their capture. A code of practice was initiated in VIC to reduce whale entanglements in pot ropes, and reported interactions are low, at 1-2 per year. Minimal threatened species interactions have been reported in the TAS fishery. All fisheries have some independent observer coverage that verifies wildlife interactions reported in fishery logbooks.