Science backs sustainable lobster fishing 

Ciara and Mitch are part of the DPIRD research team that undertakes the WRL boat ramp surveys

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) research staff will be at key Perth boat ramps this summer to gather data from fishers about their catches of western rock lobster. 

The surveys are conducted annually over December and January during the key time for recreational rock lobster fishing with great weather and the offshore migration of western rock lobsters that delivers excellent catches. 

Knowing how catches vary from year to year, including the size of recreationally caught lobsters is important to understanding how well the fishery is tracking.

The boat ramp surveys start today and include a short questionnaire and the measuring and weighing of any retained rock lobsters. The information contributes to the broader approach to data collection for this species which also involves annual phone recall surveys with rock lobster licence holders. 

DPIRD Senior Research Scientist Claire Smallwood said the surveys made a valuable contribution to the sustainable management of the rock lobster resource and would not be possible without the ongoing support of recreational fishers.

“We really appreciate the willingness of fishers to participate in our scientific surveys and support our research,” Dr Smallwood said.   

“DPIRD’s annual rock lobsters surveys gather important data on participation, effort and catch of rock lobster fishers and provide insights into the human dimensions of this fishery. 

“Understanding all these elements will help contribute to the sustainable management of the resource.

“The results from the 2022-23 fishing season show that more than 35,000 licensed rock lobster fishers took part with nearly 80 per cent fishing with pots and the remaining 20 per cent diving to catch lobsters.” 

For fishers heading out to catch rock lobsters, there are some key points to note including not pulling up a pot without surface floats under any circumstances. Instead advise a DPIRD Fisheries officer of the pot’s location or report it to FishWatch on 1800 815 507 or lodge your report through the online form on Crimestoppers

WA’s lobster fishing rules and other helpful further information for fishers is available in the 2023/24 Rock lobster recreational fishing guide.