Publication Date


Series Number

Fisheries Research Report 313


Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development






The Western Rock Lobster (WRL) (Panulirus cygnus) is one of the four Rock Lobster (RL) species found in Western Australia. It was the first fishery in the world to obtain Marine Stewardship Council Certification and the first in Western Australia to be managed under a resource allocation process. Catches from the commercial and recreational sectors are required to determine and monitor Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Total Allowable Recreational Catch (TARC) and proportion of Allowable Harvest Level (AHL) achieved. The TARC is set at 5% of the AHL and evaluated in the harvest strategy based on a 5-year average. Since 2018/19, data for the recreational sector have been collected using phone-recall surveys to provide estimates of participation, fishing effort and retained catch (by numbers) from recreational fishers who hold a RL licence. Average weight, obtained from boat ramp surveys, are used to convert estimates of retained catch from licensed fishers by number to weight. Tour Operator Returns (Charter Logbooks) provide a census of the annual participation, effort and retained catch (by numbers) from charter fishers. Random length samples of WRL are provided by tour operators and converted to weight using a length-weight equation which are then used to covert the retained catch from numbers to weight. Participation in the RL recreational fishery (all species) by licensed fishers (RL licence holders aged five years and older) in 2020/21 (1 February 2020–31 January 2021) was 66.8% or 37,469 fishers (95% CI 35,350–39,587). These values were steady from 2018/19–2020/21 (i.e., the 95% CI overlapped between years). The total fishing effort for RL fishing (all species) in 2020/21 was 522,485 days fished (95%CI 491,063–553,907); of which 76.9% or 401,600 (363,338–439,862) was by potting and 23.1% or 120,885 (93,904–147,866) by diving. These values were steady from 2018/19–2020/21. The majority of fishing effort occurred in the Metro-West Coast region (63.5–68.4%). The retained recreational catch of WRL by licensed fishers in 2020/21, based on an overall (i.e., combined across potting and diving) average weight of 587.4 g, was 526 t (95% CI 460–592); of which 79.8% or 420 t (362–478) was harvested by potting and 20.2% or 106 t (68–145) by diving. Total catch (in tonnes) was steady from 2018/19–2020/21. Retained recreational catch of WRL from charter fishing in 2020/21 was 16 t (based on an overall average weight of 494.9 g), an increase from 9 t in 2018/19 (based on an overall average weight of 569.0 g). The majority of the charter catch was taken by potting (88.9–93.7%). The 5-year average recreational catch (for licensed and charter fishing combined) was 427 t in 2018/19, which represents an AHL of 4.6%. The AHL increased to 4.9% in 2019/20 and 2020/21 with a 5-year average recreational catch of 468 t and 498 t, respectively.

Number of Pages



Western Australia, Panulirus cygnus, Recreational fishing.