The effects of western rock lobster on benthic, shallow water assemblages
Western rock lobsters, Panulirus cygnus, form the basis of Australia’s largest single species fishery valued at approximately AU$300 million per year. Although much is known about the relationship between the number of recruits and the number of legally sized individuals four years later, much less is known about the effects of lobster removal on benthic communities. Such an understanding is becoming increasingly important for the fishery to maintain its Marine Stewardship Council accreditation. Using a combination of field surveys, manipulative experiments, acoustic telemetry, stable isotope and fatty acid analyses, this project will investigate the effects of lobster behaviour and trophodynamics on the community structure and functioning of shallow water ecosystems of temperate Western Australia. Such research is vital for understanding the effects of lobster removal, through fishing, on the sustainability of shallow water ecosystems, and will feed into the ecologically sustainable development processes for the fishery.