The results of a special review of WA’s western rock lobster fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) released today have recertified the fishery despite concerns about overfishing and declining stock levels.
The detail of the report shows that whilst recertification was confirmed, the MSC is concerned about the methodology used to predict stock levels, the stock levels themselves and the lack of research into the ecological effects of the fishery that operates along most of the southern part of WA’s west coast where less than 1% of the marine environment is protected.
The fishery is Australia’s most lucrative and the rock lobsters themselves are a keystone species in WA’s marine environment. A collapse in rock lobster stocks would be an economic and environmental disaster.
The health of the fishery is measured by counting the number of larval lobsters (puerelus). These numbers have reached historical lows, prompting the review.
Whilst some scientists consider that the fishery should be closed altogether, the industry has taken voluntary cuts to try and rebuild stock levels. The Squid doesn’t know who is right, but reckons if what is considered one of the world’s best managed and most sustainable fisheries has got to this point, it is another solid argument that we need a network of large marine sanctuaries to insure against the effect of mistakes like this and protect our marine life for the future.