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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Commercial industries

Commercial fishing and aquaculture make a valuable contribution to the WA economy through employment and supporting regional businesses and the supply of local, sustainable and high-quality seafood to the community. Commercial fishing and aquaculture in the Abrolhos FHPA is strictly regulated and operators must be licensed.

Commercial fishing

The major commercial fishery operating at the Abrolhos is the West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery, which targets the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus) using pots. The Fishery is Australia’s most valuable single species wild capture fishery and has a longstanding commercial and economic history at the Abrolhos Islands. Some commercial rock lobster fishers have camps and jetties on the Abrolhos Reserve to support their commercial activities.

Other commercial fisheries operating in the Abrolhos FHPA include the:

  • Area 8 of the Abalone Managed Fishery (currently closed);
  • Midwest area of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Interim Managed Fishery;
  • Abrolhos Islands and Mid-West Trawl Managed Fishery;
  • West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery;
  • Marine Aquarium Fish Managed Fishery;
  • Specimen Shell Managed Fishery;
  • Area 3 of the Mackerel Managed Fishery;
  • Zone 1 of the Octopus Interim Managed Fishery;
  • Commercial squid jig fishery;
  • Northern Development Zone of the West Coast Purse Seine Managed Fishery; and
  • taking aquatic resources for aquaculture broodstock and growout.


The Abrolhos FHPA’s pristine waters provide potential for ecologically sustainable commercial aquaculture, particularly with endemic marine finfish and shellfish species. Most aquaculture sites in the Abrolhos FHPA are used for the growout of species such as coral, live rock, shellfish, seaweed and finfish. Aquaculture operators may own camps and jetties on the Abrolhos Reserve to support their commercial activities.

The Midwest Aquaculture Development Zone​ (MWADZ) was declared in the Abrolhos FHPA in September 2017 and comprises two separate northern and southern areas of 2200 and 800 hectares, respectively. 

An aquaculture management framework is currently in preparation to support the orderly development of aquaculture at the Abrolhos.

Charter and tourism

The Abrolhos FHPA is located within the West Coast Zone of the Western Australian Charter Fishery, an area between Augusta in the south to Kalbarri in the north. The FHPA has long been a destination of choice for the fishing tour operator industry due to the unique and diverse experience it provides.

Nature-based eco-tourism (non-fishing) commercial operators provide the platform for many visitors to experience a wide range of extraordinary world-class tourism activities at the Abrolhos that they may not otherwise have the resources to experience. 

Marine-based activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, snorkelling, diving and kayaking are popular. Other experiences include visiting cultural heritage sites in the FHPA and National Park and wildlife watching such as birds, sealions, dolphins, whales and turtles. ​

Last modified: 3/11/2022 8:45 AM

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