Project number: 2000-255
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $89,360.00
Principal Investigator: Emilio Ghisalberti
Organisation: University of Western Australia (UWA)
Project start/end date: 16 Oct 2000 - 22 Nov 2004


A number of species, mainly whole fish and fish heads are imported as western rock lobster bait. These imports (chiefly from New Zealand, The Netherlands and Scotland), valued at about $12 million dollars in 1994-95, supplied about 65-70% of the rock lobster bait market. Thus, the rock lobster industry is very vulnerable to quarantine policy changes which might restrict bait supply. In addition an artificial bait with a long shelf life will be of considerable benefit to the operation of the rock lobster fishery. There is pressure from recreational fishing interests to reduce the use of important recreational fin-fish, such as Australian salmon and herring, as bait for western rock lobster. The exploitation rate on these important recreational species by commercial fishers could be relieved by the availability of an artificial bait that could result from the combination of the results from this study and those from FRDC 96/337. The need for research into chemoattractants in the western rock lobster becomes more pressing given the ambiguous results of the bait trials conducted under FRDC Project 99/372.

It appears that a range of chemical substances may attract western rock lobsters. Identification of these substances could lead to the application of this information in lobster (and perhaps other crustacean) fisheries across Australia and in other countries. The identification of the attractants is seen as fundamental to the provision of an effective artificial lobster bait. In addition, a cost effective bait could lead to a reduction in the fixed costs associated with fishing and increase thus generate greater profits from the export of product from Australia's most valuable fishery.


1. The overall objective of the study is to contribute to the development of an effective and cost-effective artificial bait for western rock lobsters within the context of an understanding of chemical communication within the species (pheromones) and the response of lobsters to external chemical stimuli.
2. Undertake and collate the results of searches of the recent scientific and patent literature in relation to the development of artificial bait for the western rock lobster.
3. To isolate and identify attractant compounds present in normal commercial rock lobster bait.
4. To formulate and conduct trials to test the efficacy of identified attractants for western rock lobsters.

Final report

ISBN: 0-646-43190-0
Author: Emilio Ghisalberti

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