Boom for lobster catchers

Gareth McKnightSound Telegraph
Rockingham waters have been awash with rock lobster this season.
Camera IconRockingham waters have been awash with rock lobster this season. Credit: Recfishwest

Rockingham’s reefs are seemingly awash with rock lobsters during another busy season — with scientific evidence that numbers of the seafood delicacy are on the rise.

After anecdotal reports that more crayfish loiter locally, the Telegraph has contacted the experts for vindication.

The “whites run” during early summer is when the lobsters migrate from the shallows to deeper water regions and is named for their pale-coloured shells.

This gives keen fishers the opportunity to bag one for lunch.

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The Department of Fisheries predicts the number of potential crayfish by monitoring juveniles, with the statistics making promising reading.

“We use the numbers of juvenile lobsters sampled four years earlier to predict the numbers of lobsters available to catch in shallow waters during summer,” Fisheries principal rock lobster scientist Dr Simon de Lestang said.

“Four years ago we received a slightly better recruitment of juveniles than we did five years ago. Therefore we would expect this summer to be slightly better than last.

“Next summer will be even bigger again, as we had very large numbers of juveniles three years ago.”

Recfishwest regional policy officer Matt Gillett said the number of people crayfishing in the metropolitan area was growing.

“The recreational rock lobster fishery provides enjoyable, accessible, sustainable and safe fishing for over 55,000 licence holders each year,” he said.

“This season has yet again provided excellent fishing experiences for those diving or dropping pots, with record numbers of migrating crayfish providing excellent catches from Margaret River to Kalbarri.”

Fisheries principal management officer for the Southern bioregions Graeme Baudains said the increased number of lobsters was because people did not take more than their quota.

“The commercial fishery has been managed very conservatively in recent years and this has resulted in an overall increase in abundance and hence improved catch rates,” he said.

City of Rockingham chief executive Andrew Hammond fishes for crayfish on a regular basis and said it was a special experience.

“Crayfishing is a tradition for me leading up to Christmas — as it is for a lot of people in Rockingham,” he said.

“Over the last three years we have seen a really good increase in the fishery.

“It’s not everywhere in Perth that you can get up at 5am and go out over a beautiful stretch of water, catch some seafood delicacies, cook them and still be at work at 8.30am — it’s a pretty special thing to be able to do.”

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