Project number: 2008-013
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $1,117,932.00
Principal Investigator: Lynda Bellchambers
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2008 - 29 Jun 2012


Continuation of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) accreditation of the Western Rock Lobster
Fishery (WRLF) depends on the fishery addressing issues outlined within the 2006 re-certification action plan. This plan states “no substantive evidence has been presented for assessment about the impacts of the fishery on ecosystem structure, function, diversity, productivity or habitats caused by the removal of target stocks.” The re-certification plan also identified the need to understand the impacts of the fishery on trophic linkages between lobsters and their predators and prey, at each of the main stages of lobster life history.

The need for these types of ecological data was highlighted by the most recent risk assessment, where the effects of removing lobster biomass in deep water was given a “moderate” risk. Re-assessment of the level of risk will require the gaps in the knowledge of deep water ecosystems to be addressed.

Research undertaken during FRDC 2004/049 increased the understanding of the relationship between lobster and their deepwater habitats, however the approach was ineffective in addressing MSC requirements. Therefore the EcoSRG have concluded that there is a need for future research in deep water to use research closures.

Based on the outcomes of FRDC 2004/049, the risk levels and the EcoSRG workshop, this proposal will use closed areas to examine the potential impacts of the rock lobster fishery in deep water, providing baseline information essential for the assessment of the impacts of the fishery on the ecosystem in the future.

This proposal will be conducted in two phases. Phase one will establish fished and unfished areas within deep water in collaboration with industry. Phase two will establish baseline information on lobster stocks, habitat and community structure. If at the end of phase one there is no agreement to establish closed areas, the second phase will not proceed.


1. Indentification and assessment of suitable unfished reference areas to exclude rock lobster fishing in deep water
2. Development of a qualitative trophodynamic model that will provide a conceptual framework for determining sampling protocols, indictors and targets.
3. To provide cost effective methods to measure deep water ecosystems in both fished and unfished reference areas

Related research