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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Commercial fishing management

At a time when many global fish resources are being exploited, Western Australia’s outstanding management systems are working to ensure all our fisheries are ecologically sustainable.

Apart from the economic and social value to our State of having healthy fish stocks for the future, key global seafood markets are increasingly demanding that fish is sourced from well-managed fisheries. Managing Western Australia’s commercial fisheries to the highest standards is therefore vital to the long-term viability of our fishing industry.

Many of our State’s commercial fisheries are now either fully managed or under some form of limited management.

Our fisheries are managed through a series of legislated plans, regulations, orders and licence conditions. These are developed in conjunction with industry, peak bodies, associations and community groups.

Communications are managed through meetings and notices.

A vessel monitoring system (VMS) is used in many of Western Australia's major commercial fisheries. VMS is a satellite-linked monitoring system that regularly provides data such as the location, course and speed of monitored vessels to VMS officers at our Marine Operations Centre in Fremantle. This information allows us to accurately and efficiently monitor such things as adherence to catch entitlement allocations and seasonal fishing closures.

Current managed fisheries

Western Australia has a number of commercial managed fisheries.

In terms of value, western rock lobster is the most significant seafood in Western Australia.

Rock lobster managed fisheries

In Western Australia there are three rock lobster managed fisheries:

- West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery;

- Esperance Rock Lobster Managed Fishery;

- The Windy Harbour-Augusta Rock Lobster Managed Fishery. 

Eight species of rock lobster are found off the coast of Western Australia. However, virtually everything caught is the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus), found up to 60 km off the coast between Augusta and Shark Bay.

The western rock lobster is one of the most valuable single-species in Australia.

The West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery was the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2000. It is now the first fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable for a third time.

Western rock lobster fishery data has been kept since the early 1960s. This comprehensive information enables fisheries scientists to predict catches accurately and fisheries managers to ensure controls are adequate to protect breeding stocks and the sustainability of the fishery.

Continuing and extensive consultation, in addition to a long-term science program, has resulted in western rock lobster being one of the best managed fisheries in the world.

Last modified: 17/03/2014 2:08 PM

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The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.