Tropical Rocklobster

Latin name: Panulirus ornatus

Common name: Lobster

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Tropical rock lobsters are caught by dive-based hand gathering methods.
  • The Queensland Crayfish and Rock Lobster Fishery is a multi species fishery and operates almost exclusively in tidal waters between Cape York and Cape Melville, primarily in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
  • Catch rates have been on a declining trend for the last decade, and a series of severe environmental impacts across the Great Barrier Reef give some concern for the health of tropical rock lobster populations
  • The GBR Marine Park likely provides refuge and resilience for populations.
  • Recently introduced management arrangements containing elements of international best practice are a welcome advance in the fishery’s management.
  • The fishing method is likely to pose a minimal risk to threatened and endangered species.
  • The hand collection methods used also pose minimal risk to Great Barrier Reef habitats.

Cooking & Recipes


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 with the help of kitchen scissors. The meat can then be dressed and served in a salad or seafood cocktail, or tossed through pasta, risotto or egg-noodles. To serve in the shell, split lobsters lengthwise and cook 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 purchase.

More information

  • Queensland Crayfish and Rock Lobster Fishery (110t in 2019)

The fishery primarily targets the ornate rock lobster, but also several species of the Family Palinuridae and champagne lobsters

The GBR Marine Park provides significant protection and refuge for rock lobster stocks and threatened and endangered species. However, repeated coral bleaching events on the reef in recent years may have longer term impacts on this species.

Tropical rock lobster catch rates have declined toward historic lows in recent years, and a precautionary GoodFish assessment indicates some concern for the health of fished populations.

There is no independent observer coverage in the fishery and there are concerns fisher reporting of bycatch and discards is inadequate. But these are mitigated by the protection provided by best practice marine park management and it is unlikely the under-reported catch is leading to declines of discarded species.

Since the last AMCS assessment in 2018, the fishery has undergone a series of welcome reforms as part of the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027.