On a rocky road: the west coast rock lobster

West coast rock lobster, Jasus lalandii

Rock lobsters live – and are fished – on both the east and west coasts of South Africa but are two distinct species,. Both species are slow-growing and live a long time. And until recently, they were orange-listed by WWF-SASSI. This year, SASSI re-assessed the rock lobster species harvested on the west coast (Jasus lalandii) and determined it to be worse off than when it was last assessed, in 2013. Now, unfortunately, the draft suggests it may be Red-listed but this has not been finalised. This change in the status of the west coast rock lobster came about due to the declines in the health of the population. Not only has the size of the entire west coast rock lobster population decreased compared to 2013 estimates, but in certain areas the species has reached or is close to the threshold level required to close all fishing. Other concerns flagged in 2013 still remain unresolved. Among these, issues with poaching and ecosystem impacts, and a lack of management activities to sufficiently address these concerns. WWF-SA and DAFF, through a joint partnership, have committed to developing a Fisheries Conservation Project (FCP) with key stakeholders to rebuild the stock and address the causes of the decline. The FCP workplan is an ambitous and holistic undertaking which will include new effort controls, programmes to address poaching, training and multi-stakeholder engagements.