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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Lobster recreational fishing

The Rock Lobster fishery in Western Australia is an important, sustainably managed fishery, which provides a range of economic and social benefits to our community. There are about 55,000 recreational Rock Lobster licences issued annually in Western Australia, most of which are held by fishers who reside in the Perth Metropolitan area. These licences help fund on-site and off-site surveys for monitoring the recreational fishery. 

The species most frequently caught by recreational fishers is the Western Rock Lobster (Panulirus cygnus), with potting the most popular fishing method. The majority of Western Rock Lobster are caught in the West Coast bioregion, between Kalbarri and Augusta. Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and Tropical Rock Lobster (Panulirus ornatus and P. versicolor) are caught less frequently. 


Our scientists conduct an annual survey of licensed recreational Rock Lobster fishers to monitor and improve our understanding of the fishery. We interview a randomly selected sample of recreational Rock Lobster licence holders by phone, which enables us to estimate participation, fishing effort and total retained catch (by numbers). We also conduct on-site boat ramp surveys to weigh and measure retained catch. These surveys provide average weight estimates of Western Rock Lobster, and we use this to convert the total retained catch from numbers to weight. 

Data from mandatory logbook returns from tour operator (charter) fishers are also used to provide summaries of participation, fishing effort and total retained catch (by numbers) for this part of the recreational sector. We apply a length-weight equation to a random sample of Rock Lobster lengths recorded by tour operators. This allows us to generate an average weight estimate, which we use to convert the total retained catch from numbers to weight.

The results from our most recent survey of recreational rock lobster fishing in 2022/23 can be found here:

Full report: Fisheries Research Report No.335

Results from previous surveys:

2021/22 - Fisheries Research Report No.325

2021/22 - Summary of key results

2018/19 – 2020/21​ - Fisheries Research Report No.313

1986/87 – 2017/18 - Fisheries Research Report No.299

Recreational Fishing Rules 

The recreational catch is managed through a combination of measures including bag, size and possession limits. Recreational fishers must have a licence to fish for any sp​ecies of rock lobste​r​ and produce it when requested to by a Fisheries and Marine Officer. Gear specifications apply.

It is prohibited to sell or use recreationally caught rock lobster for any gain or reward (including barter or exchange for other goods or services). Information on fishing rules for rock lobster including bag and size limits can be found online and in the Recreational fishing for rock lobster guide​.


Last modified: 15/11/2023 7:51 AM

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