Southern rock lobster

Image by Julian Finn, Museum of Victoria


Southern rock lobster are found on coastal reefs from the south-west coast of Western Australia to the south coast of New South Wales, including Tasmania and New Zealand.

Stock structure

Southern rock lobster is considered a single biological fish stock across south-eastern Australia, including South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 assessed the status of southern rock lobster at the scale of this southern Australian biological stock.  

For administrative purposes, the southern rock lobster stock is divided into two management zones: the western zone and the eastern zone. The western zone extends from the South Australian border to Apollo Bay and the eastern zone extends from Apollo Bay to the New South Wales border.

Annual catch


Estimated Victorian catch

Commercial (2015/15 fishing year)

299 tonnes

Recreational (from 2000/01 national survey)

 ≈ 62 tonnes (51,228 fish of average weight 1.2kg)

Indigenous (i.e. 2015/16 customary fishing permits)

0 tonnes

Estimated total

≈ 361 tonnes

Stock status

The table below summarises and explains the status and management of southern rock lobster based on: 

  1. Stock status: classification of the status of the southern Australian rock lobster stock as at 2013, taken from the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.  This biological stock is affected by fishing and management beyond Victorian waters.
    Read more here about the SAFS assessment approach and classification system.
  2. Management settings: overview of current management arrangements in Victorian waters, including any recent changes that may affect stock status.
  3. Risk management category: The Victorian Fisheries Authority's overall, qualitative assessment of current risk to stock status in Victorian waters taking into account management arrangements, based on the best information currently available:

    Red Red - current management measures may not be sufficient to prevent stock depletion
    Amber Amber - current management measures expected to mitigate risk of stock depletion
    Green Green - stock status not of concern under current management

Stock status is based only on sustainability and is for the entire biological stock. Management settings and risk management category also consider the steps taken to address stock status, and only apply to the portion of the stock in Victorian waters. 

Management settings are also influenced by social and economic factors, and can take some time to affect a stock's status. This can depend on biological and environmental factors as well as the type and level of management changes implemented.

Stock status (2013 data)

Key management settings

Risk management category



Commercial harvest is predominantly managed by limited entry licensing, a total allowable commercial catch (TACC) and restrictions on size, gear and fishing season. Recreational fishers are subject to size, bag and possession limits and seasonal fishing restrictions.

TACC levels will remain unchanged for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. Improved fishery-independent data collection, a trial of electronic logbooks and web platforms for stock assessment data will also be developed.

Read more about the fishing methods and rules for southern rock lobster in Victoria.



The following data provide evidence that this stock is sustainable 

Available information does not indicate stock status concerns

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

Fishing pressure assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that the level of fishing mortality was unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

Read more here about the assessment of rock lobster stock status as at 2013 in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.

More information

Read more on the Commercial southern rock lobster fishery.