Western Australia's $300 million rock lobster industry is worried about the fishery's future after the Department of Fisheries has found few baby lobsters in harvesting areas.
The local lobster industry could face a disaster for the 2011-12 season if larval-stage lobsters don't appear in the next four months. The department is investigating whether climate change or overfishing or is to blame, or whether the larvae, known as puerulus, have merely relocated outside of typical growing areas. Puerulus surveys are used to predict future harvests.
About 500 commercial boats participate in the Western Australia rock lobster fishery, which was first certified as sustainable under the Marine Stewardship Council program in 2000 and recertified in 2006.