Global leaders in innovative, sustainable lobster management

About the fishery

The Western Rock Lobster industry is an iconic, world-class fishery that is based on the spiny lobster (Panulirus cygnus) along Western Australia’s coast between Shark Bay and Cape Leeuwin.

The industry comprises of some 230 vessels who use baited pots to fish for rock lobster, which are primarily sold by air freight into China and within the domestic market. It is Western Australia’s most valuable fishery, with an estimated value of $400 million, and has historically been Australia’s most valuable single-species wild capture fishery.

The Western Rock Lobster fishery was the world’s first fishery to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2000 in recognition of the high environmental values and sustainable practices maintained by members. In 2017, it met the necessary requirements and was able to renew its MSC certification for the fourth time.

MSC is the world’s most respected independent fisheries sustainability certification standard which reviews the fishery based on stock assessment and harvest strategy, the impact of the fishery on the wider ecology and management and consultation arrangements.

In the earlier days the West Coast Rock Lobster fishery operated as an input fishery (total allowable effort) and the commercial harvest averaged 11,000 tonnes per annum. Market supply was governed by catchability of lobster, sometimes resulting in over supply and lower prices.

After a number of years of below average recruitment (puerulus) attributed to lowered breeding stocks in the deepwater and northern part of the fishery, 2008 was the lowest recruitment on record. This acted as a catalyst for change and in 2009, in close consultation with the Department of Fisheries, industry moved towards a regulated output management system through a quota system to ensure the sustainability of rock lobster stocks.

In 2015, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) was 6,000 tonnes, a significant reduction in the volume of lobster previously taken. For each commercial fishing season, the TACC across all zones is set annually. The quota can vary, depending on numerous factors, such as the success of puerulus settlement.

Quota management measures have brought a significant reduction in the number of pots being used in the fishery, which in turn has significantly reduced its impact on the surrounding ecosystem and marine animals. The fishing season has been extended from 7.5 months to 12 months, which has maximised individual fisher’s efficiencies and given the market a consistent and stable supply all year round.

Latest news

Election Results for the WRL Board of Directors 2018

Nominations for the election of Directors were opened on 1 August 2018 for one A Zone representative, one B Zone representative and two C Zone representatives. When nominations closed on …

WRL team move offices to the Fremantle wharf!

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is excited to announce that our team have moved to a new location on the wharf in Fremantle! WRL has created a professional independent presence that you …

WRL launch DECK Program to provide professional development opportunities to industry

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is pleased to announce the launch of our industry DECK Program with the first two-day forum to be held on Thursday 11th to Friday 12th of October …

2018 Management Meetings valuable opportunity to engage with our many members and stakeholders

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) would like to thank all of our members and stakeholders who attended the 2018 West Coast Rock Lobster Management Meetings (MMs), facilitated by the Industry Consultation …

Our member’s Industry Levy funds are achieving great things!

With the 2017/18 financial year drawn to a close, it’s time to reflect on the fantastic things our member’s Industry Levy funds have achieved so far. Firstly, let’s have a …

New WRL Rules of Association now in effect

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is pleased to announce that the new WRL Rules of Association was unanimously adopted by Members who attended in person or by proxy at the Special …

TACC Committee Report and Peer Review Report released ahead of 2018 Management Meetings

Dear WRL Members and Stakeholders, Please find below attached reports and information regarding the 2018 Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) Committee recommendations and the outcomes of the recent independent peer …

Matt Taylor CEO presented this morning at a breakfast function hosted by Agribusiness Australia

Matt Taylor CEO presented this morning at a breakfast function hosted by Agribusiness Australia. The topic was ‘Lobster Success – Sound growth strategy for the quiet achievers’. Western Rock Lobster …

Two new research programs to the value of $1 million are approved and underway!

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is pleased to announce that two research program proposals to the value of $1 million have been approved through our Industry Partnership Agreement (IPA) with the …

Commonwealth Government Announces Increase in Transition Funding to New Safety Management System

The Deputy Prime Minister released a policy statement this morning extending the transition funding arrangements for the new National Marine Safety Management System. Read the statement here. In response to industry …

WRL welcome Kessley O’Halloran to the team!

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is pleased to announce the appointment of Kessley O’Halloran to the WRL team in the role of Executive Assistant. Kessley is a skilled and dedicated Executive …

NOTICE of Special General Meeting, 19th July 2018 at 12.00 p.m.

25 June 2018 Dear Licence Holders, A Special General Meeting (SGM) of the Western Rock Lobster Council Inc. (WRL) will be held on Thursday, 19th July 2018 at the Geraldton …

Western Rock Lobster support new technology to enhance tracking and reduce whale entanglements

Western Rock Lobster is supporting new technology designed to reduce whale entanglements for commercial and recreational fishers along the Western Australian coast. The introduction of whale tracking buoys is a …

Independent peer review of the science and modelling underway

In early 2018 Western Rock Lobster (WRL) requested to work collaboratively with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to undertake a prudent independent peer review of the …

CONSULTATION: Wildblue Holdings Pty Ltd Aquaculture Licence and Lease, Abrolhos Islands

Wildblue Holdings has applied to culture various species of seaweed at a site in the Pelsaert Group of the Abrolhos Islands. Industry feedback sought by 28 May 2018. In 2017, …

Western rock lobster deliver multi-million dollar tourism boost

International tourists have a growing appetite for Western Australia’s most iconic seafood, delivering a multi-million-dollar boost to the local tourism industry. New research reveals the western rock lobster fishery is …

Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster team up to keep lobster fishers safe

SNAG IT? TAG IT! A new safety initiative to keep thousands of Western Australian lobster fishers safe will be rolled out along the West Coast in the coming weeks. In …

Our iconic western rock lobster industry featured on ABC Landline

The episode which aired on Sunday 6 May 2018, featured the Lobster Shack in Cervantes which is a fantastic example of how fishermen are promoting the industry through tourism experiences. …

CONSULTATION: Alkimos, Geophysical and geotechnical works – Proposed Desalination site

The Water Corporation is looking to complete initial exploratory work to assess the best location for a proposed desalination plant for a future Perth water supply option. Industry feedback sought …

CONSULTATION: Little Rat Coral Farm Pty Ltd Aquaculture Licence and Lease, Abrolhos Islands

Little Rat Coral Farm Pty Ltd (LRCF) has applied to culture various species of coral at three offshore sites near Little Rat Island in the Abrolhos Islands. Industry feedback sought …

Research Institute to double value of western rock lobster industry

Western Rock Lobster plans to establish an Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research in a bid to double the industry’s economic contribution to $1 billion in the next decade. Western …

WRL Alternative Funding Model Proposal

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) has adopted an industry Gross Value of Production (GVP) target of $1 billion by 2028. While ambitious, a doubling of the gross value of production of …

Ngari Capes Marine Park – Gazettal of zoning scheme

The Ngari Capes Marine Park zoning scheme was gazetted on 10 April 2018. Fishing prohibitions in some of these zones will come into effect in 12 months. The Department of …

WRL Coastal Tour March/April 2018

Thank you to all WRL Members and Stakeholders who joined us at one (or more!) of our coastal tour meetings over the last 2 weeks! The March Coastal Tour was a …

CONSULTATION: Changes to survey regime for domestic commercial vessels from 1 July 2018

AMSA have opened consultation on proposed changes to the vessel survey regime arrangements. The AMSA consultation is open until 2 May 2018. The new reduced survey regime has significant benefits, …

CONSULTATION: 3D on-shore and off-shore seismic survey off WA’s Mid-West region

Westranch Holdings Pty Ltd are currently seeking approval from Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) to conduct a 3D on-shore and off-shore seismic survey off WA’s Mid-West region, …

More western rock lobsters for locals this Easter and April holiday

West Australian rock lobster fishermen will be able to pull their pots and sell direct to local wholesalers, retailers and restaurants during the Easter holiday thanks to the Local Lobster …

Consultation: Recfishwest proposed Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs)

Recfishwest is proposing to install Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) in Albany, Broome, Cape Naturaliste, Exmouth and Geraldton. WRL is seeking industry feedback especially with regard to the Geraldton FAD locations proposed …

Peer Review FAQs

Recently we announced that WRL would collaborate with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to conduct an independent peer review of the Western rock lobster science and …

New Fishing Operations Committee established

Western Rock Lobster would like to sincerely thank all those young active skippers for sending in an application of interest to join the Fishing Operations Committee (FOC) recently established by …

WRL request independent peer review of Western Rock Lobster science and modelling

WRL take steps towards working collaboratively with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to undertake an independent peer review of the Western Rock Lobster model and science. …

Expression of Interest (EoI) – Fishing Operations Sub-committee

Western Rock Lobster are seeking 5 young active skippers to become members of a committee that will assess then recommend any industry rules and regulations that should be relaxed, removed …

The Potential for a New Statutory Management Authority

ACIL Allen Consulting has been commissioned by the Western Rock Lobster Council and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council to conduct a scoping study on the advantages and disadvantages of …

Prayers for a safe, prosperous 2018 at traditional fleet blessing in Dongara

Dongara fishermen were joined by their families, friends and community members today to celebrate the start of a new fishing season with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet ceremony. Local …

Season’s Greetings from WRL: Message from the Chair

I would like to extend my personal thanks to our many members, stakeholders, PFAs and WRLC Directors who have contributed to the extensive range of activities and achievements by the …

Western Rock Lobster Industry worth half a billion dollars to WA economy

The Western Rock Lobster industry is a major contributor to economic growth and job creation in Western Australia, according to comprehensive economic analysis that quantifies the fishery’s contribution to the …

Launch of the Local Lobster Program!

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly announced today the launch of the Local Lobster Program! Click here to read the Ministerial Statement. The Local Lobster Program, formerly known as the Local Access …

New AMSA Vessel Stability Guide

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has developed a new guide for all fishing vessel owners, operators and crew to help better understand the key elements and the hazards that …

Rockingham: two men fined more than $25,000 for taking lobsters

Two men have been fined more than $25,000 between them after causing a big loss to a second generation commercial rock lobster fisher’s livelihood. Click here to read the full …

Western Rock Lobster are proud sponsors of “In Search of Fish and Fortune”. Grab your copy today!

Western Rock Lobster are proud sponsors of the book “In Search of Fish and Fortune” written by author and master shipwright Bill Leonard. In Search of Fish and Fortune celebrates …

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