Certifier : 
SCS Global Services
Certified status : 
Certified
Certified since : 
01 Mar 2000
Certificate expires : 
29 May 2022

About

In 2017 Australian Western rock lobster fishery became the first fishery to be recertified for a fourth time. It has held continuous certification for sustainability for 17 years.   

In March 2000 this fishery, on the coast of Western Australia from Cape Leeuwin to Shark Bay 1000km further north, was the first in the world to become MSC certified. It comprises some 250 vessels using baited pots and traps to fish for rock lobster.

The fishery has strict requirements in place including seasonal closures, minimum size requirements and a ban on catching breeding females. Data has been kept since the 1960s and enables scientists to predict catches accurately and ensure that controls are adequate to maintain sustainable levels. 

Watch a video celebrating the fishery's 15 years of certification >

The fishery recently moved from an input (effort control) to an output (catch quota) management system. This decision was made in close consultation with the Department of Fisheries Western Australia because of below-average recruitment rates in recent years, and has meant a significant reduction in the volume of lobster taken from the fishery – a reduction of almost half from the 2005/06 catch – to ensure the sustainability of the rock lobster stocks.

These 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. The fishery has also introduced Sea Lion Exclusion Devices (SLEDS) to minimise the mortality of sea lions, and banned the use of bait bands that can entangle marine animals.

“Before certification, this fishery was sustainable because we said so. Now, all this wonderful scientific information is reviewed by experts around the world. We get an automatic peer review of how we manage our fishery.”

- Dexter Davies, Executive Chairman, Western Rock Lobster Council 

Australian Western rock lobster image © MSC / Matt Watson