Publication Date


Series Number

Fisheries Research Report No. 335


Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development






ISSN: 1035-4549 (Print) ISSN: 2202-5758 (Online)


The Western Rock Lobster (WRL) (Panulirus cygnus) is the most commonly caught Rock Lobster (RL) species in Western Australia. Catches from the commercial and recreational sectors are required to determine and monitor Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC), 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. Data for the recreational sector are obtained 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 from tour operators are used to convert the retained catch from numbers to weight. This report provides estimates of recreational rock lobster fishing participation, effort and catch for 2022/23 (1 February 2022–31 January 2023). Participation in the RL recreational fishery (all species) by licensed fishers (RL licence holders aged five years and older) in 2022/23 was 67% or 35,236 fishers (95% CI 34,010–36,463) This was steady (i.e., the 95% CI overlapped between survey years) when compared to phone-recall surveys conducted between 2018/19 and 2021/22 (67–68%). The total fishing effort for RL fishing (all species) in 2022/23 by licensed fishers was 481,758 days fished (95% CI 447,711–515,804); of which 78% or 376,884 days (343,595–410,173) was by potting and 22% or 104,874 days (90,213–119,534) by diving. This was steady when compared to phone recall surveys conducted between 2018/19 and 2021/22. The majority of fishing effort in 2022/23 occurred in the Metro-West Coast region (69%). The retained recreational catch of WRL by licensed fishers in 2022/23, based on an overall (i.e., combined across potting and diving) average weight of 672.9 g, was 438 t (95% CI 401–476); of which 80% or 349 t (314–384) was harvested by potting and 20% or 89 t (72–107) by diving. This was steady when compared to phone recall surveys conducted between 2018/19–2020/21. Retained catch of WRL from tour operators in 2022/23 was 17 t (based on an overall average weight of 523.2g) and has increased annually from 9 t in 2018/19. The majority of this catch in 2022/23 was taken by potting (95%). The 5-year average recreational catch (for licensed and tour operators combined) was 498 t in 2022/23, which represents 4.7% of the AHL.

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phone-recall survey, boat ramp survey, tour operator returns, Panulirus cygnus