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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery

The West Coast Rock Lobster (Managed) Fishery targets the western rock lobster, Panulirus cygnus, on the west coast of Western Australia between Shark Bay and Cape Leeuwin, using baited traps (pots). 

It is the first fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable for a fourth time.

The fishery operates under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995, The West Coast Rock Lobster Management Plan 1993, as well as the West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery Licence, and the Commonwealth Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Export Exemption). See all the relevant legislation.

The West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery operates under a quota system based on entitlement to use pots held by licensed fishers and the relevant share of the total allowable catch set for the various zones, where the fishers are licensed to operate. For each commercial fishing season the total allowable catch across all zones is set annually. The quota can vary from time to time, depending on factors like the success of puerulus settlement.

Fishers are required to complete and submit Catch and Disposal Record (CDR) forms which involves the use of an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

Details of approved landing area maps can be found here

World first in ecological sustainability

The fishery was the world's first to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2000.​​ In 2017, it became MSC certified for a fourth time.  ​

The certification process is considered to be the most rigorous and comprehensive independent fisheries assessment in the world. The West Coast Rock Lobster industry has demonstrated strong leadership in its willingness to embrace this stringent and transparent process. 

More than 300 fisheries are currently engaged in the MSC program (106 are certified), which together record annual catches of more than seven million tons of seafood, amounting to 12 per cent of the landings for human consumption.

Worldwide, over 10,000 seafood products, worth over AUD$2 billion/year at retail, bear the blue MSC eco-label.

The process provides a rigorous independent expert review under three broad principles:

  • Stock assessment and harvest strategy: such as exploring the long term sustainability of the levels of breeding stock and the fishing effort;
  • The impact of the fishery on the wider ecology: this covers examining the impact of large scale removal of lobsters, of pots on the seabed, on bycatch species such as octopus and finfish and endangered species like sea lions; and
  • Management and consultation arrangements: including understanding decision making processes and consultation efforts with stakeholders such as commercial and recreational fishers and conservation organisations.

Reports on the western rock lobster fishery can be found at the MSC website.


Last modified: 1/08/2017 10:50 AM

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