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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

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 …

Industry Support Needed For The Meshed Pot Program

The mesh pot program provides critical data for modelling and managing your western rock lobster industry and setting the TACC. Unfortunately, participation in the program by fishers has dropped significantly …

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