Western Rocklobster


Latin name: Panulirus cygnus


Common name: Lobster

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Wild Caught

Region:
WA

Key Facts

  • Previously depleted stocks of western rocklobster have recovered to acceptable levels, as a result of management actions such as closing depleted areas of the fishery.
  • Lobsters are caught in pots, which have minimal impacts on the sea floor.
  • Humpback whales have become entangled in ropes used to anchor the pots to buoys at the surface. This has not resulted in any recorded mortalities, and whales are generally freed from fishing ropes. The fishing industry has developed a code of practice to reduce interactions.

More information

  • WA West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery (6,647t 2012-13)

Western rocklobster populations have previously been depleted as a result of fishing pressure and environmental factors, such as abnormally high temperatures leading to reduced rates of reproduction. Management responded by initiatives such as reducing the number of lobsters that were harvested, which has had positive impacts on rebuilding stocks. Areas of the fishery have also been closed to enable stock recovery, and stock monitoring indicates stocks are acceptable.

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.

Western rocklobsters are caught in pots that are lowered to the seafloor and rest in place until they are retrieved for harvest. Pot fishing has minimal impact on the sea floor.

Over the past three years, humpback whales migrating off the western coast of Australia have become entangled in ropes used to anchor the pots to buoys at the surface. This recent occurrence is as a result of increases in the amount of time the lobster pots are left in the water. The entanglements have not resulted in any recorded direct mortalities, although information on numbers of whales that remain entangled in fishing gear yet swim free of the pots is not available. The fishing industry has developed a code of practice to reduce interactions. The effectiveness of these mitigation measures in preventing further whale entanglements needs continued monitoring.