Western Rocklobster

Latin name: Panulirus cygnus

Common names: Lobster, Rock lobster

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Western rock lobster are found on rocky coastal reefs on Western Australia's west coast, and are caught commercially from around Kalbarri to Augusta.
  • The western rock lobster population is in healthy condition.
  • The Western rock lobsters are caught in baited pots deployed on the seafloor on sand, around rocky reefs and on deeper lobster migration routes. The fishing method poses a low risk to habitats or other species.
  • Humpback whales have become entangled in ropes used to anchor the pots to buoys at the surface. This issue will require ongoing careful management, but does not pose a serious risk to humpback populations at this time.

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

  • WA West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery (6,663t in 2021/22)

Western rock lobsters  are endemic to subtropical and warm temperate western Australian waters. They 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 250m depth.

The fishery is managed by setting yearly catch and size limits, with rocklobsters outside a certain size being returned to the water. These size limits protect both breeding animals and juveniles from harvest. The fishery also monitors the amount of spawning to ensure that enough rocklobsters are breeding every year. The western rock lobster population is in healthy, robust condition.

Western rocklobsters are caught in baited pots that are deployed on the seabed around rocky reefs and migratory routes and rest in place until they are retrieved for harvest. Pot fishing has minimal impact on seafloor habitats.

Humpback whales migrating off the western coast of Australia occasionally become entangled in ropes used to anchor the pots to buoys at the surface. The fishing industry has developed a code of practice to reduce interactions, and changes to fishery management have reduced the number of pots and ropes in the water to catch the allowed quantity of lobsters. There is no evidence of population level impacts to humpback whales but the issue will require careful ongoing management.

There has been extensive research to demonstrate, using marine park areas protected from fishing and closed areas, that western rock lobster fishing does not have undue effects on the wider ecosystem.