Panulirus penicillatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Palinuridae

Scientific Name: Panulirus penicillatus (Olivier, 1791)
Common Name(s):
English Pronghorn Spiny Lobster, Red Spiny Lobster, Taitung Spiny Lobster
Astacus penicillatus Olivier, 1791

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-12-03
Assessor(s): Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Butler, M.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Livingstone, S. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Batchelor, A., De Silva, R., Dyer, E., Kasthala, G., Lutz, M.L., McGuinness, S., Milligan, H.T., Soulsby, A.-M. & Whitton, F.

Panulirus penicillatus is listed as Least Concern. This species has an extremely wide distribution, stretching from the Western Indian Ocean to the Eastern Pacific. It is harvested throughout its range, and known  to be over-exploited in some regions. This has caused localized depletions, though is not believed to impacting upon the global population  Monitoring of harvest levels should be carried out to check for possible increases in fishing and to provide an accurate index of abundance for this species, together with stricter enforcement of current management regimes. 

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species has the widest distribution of any of the spiny lobsters. It occurs in the Indo-West Pacific and East Pacific regions (Holthuis 1991), south from the Red Sea to South and East Africa, Madagascar and surrounding islands; through the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to Japan, the Phillippines, Indonesia, Hawaii, Samoa and the Tuamotu Archipelago; northern and eastern Australia; and as far east as the islands of the west coast of the US (the Galapagos and Revillagigedo Archipelagos, and Cocos and Clipperton Islands), and Mexico (Sinaloa, Nayarit and Guerrero).
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa (American Samoa, Swains Is.); Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Cambodia; China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan); Christmas Island; Comoros; Cook Islands (Cook Is., Manihiki Is.); Djibouti; Ecuador (Galápagos); Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia (Marquesas, Society Is., Tuamotu, Tubuai Is.); Guam; Hong Kong; India (Andaman Is., Andhra Pradesh, Dadra-Nagar-Haveli, Daman, Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Nicobar Is., Orissa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu); Indonesia (Bali, Jawa, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Is., Maluku, Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatera); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan (Kazan-retto, Marcus I., Nansei-shoto, Ogasawara-shoto); Kenya; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Macao; Madagascar; Marshall Islands; Mauritius (Mauritius (main island), Rodrigues); Mayotte; Mexico (Guerrero, Nayarit, Revillagigedo Is., Sinaloa); Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar (Coco Is., Myanmar (mainland)); Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea (Bismarck Archipelago, North Solomons, Papua New Guinea (main island group)); Philippines; Pitcairn; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles (Aldabra, Seychelles (main island group)); Solomon Islands (Santa Cruz Is., South Solomons); Somalia; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal); Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China (Kin-Men, Ma-tsu-Pai-chuan, Taiwan, Province of China (main island)); Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., Midway Is., US Line Is., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen (North Yemen, Socotra, South Yemen)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):16
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is "rather abundant" in islands off the coast of the US and Mexico (Fischer and Bianchi 1984). It is common off Mozambique but "generally scarce" in South African waters (Steyn et al. 2008). Its population density was estimated as 95 individuals per kilometre of the reef edge in the tropical west Pacific (Ebert and Ford 1986). However, in many parts of its range this species appears to decline as a result of intense fishing pressure (both commercial and subsistence).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This nocturnal species commonly inhabits depths of 1 to 4 m (maximum 16 m), on rocky substrates (Chan 1998). It is often found in the outer reef slopes, subtidal zone or surge channels, and as such can occur on small islands or near arid coasts (Holthuis 1991). In the western Pacific females seem to be reproductive all year round (Chan 1998). In the Galapagos fecundity ranges from 200,000 to 600,000 eggs / yr, and females reach maturity at a total length of 25 - 30 cm (Hearn and Toral-Granda 2007). In the Phillippines this species may have up to five broods per year (Freitas et al. 2007). Natural mortality (M) in the Marshall Islands was calculated as 0.42 yr-1 (Ebert and Ford 1986). This species has been successfully cultured in the laboratory (Nelson et al. 2006).

Although not known for this species, other Palinurid lobsters reach sexual maturity at three to four years and longevity ranges from 10 to 14 years (Frisch 2007).
Generation Length (years):7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested wherever it occurs; usually by hand or with spears during the daytime, or near the surface by torchlight at night (Holthuis 1991). Traps and trammel nets are used in places. This species is sold fresh or frozen as lobster tails (Holthuis 1991), and also exported from certain regions (e.g., the Philippines and Indonesia) (Chan 1998). In the Southwest Indian Ocean spiny lobsters (including this species) are classified as Fully-fished to Depleted (FAO 2009).

Galapagos: This species is mostly caught by divers, and constitutes over 70 % of the spiny lobster catch (Hearn and Toral-Granda 2007). A commercial lobster fishery existed in the region from the 1960s to 1984, when the last industrial vessel retired. Although currently designated an artisanal fishery, there has been a decline in both species of spiny lobster (this species and Panulirus gracilis). This is evidenced by:
  • a reduction in catch per unit effort (CPUE) from highs of over 12 kg diver day-1 in 1978-79 to ~4 kg diver day-1 in 2005, with a steady decline since 2001 (although a data gap exists from 1982 to 1993)
  • a reduction in average size of landings of around 4 cm between 1978 and 2005
  • an increase in proportion of undersize lobsters caught to over 30 %
  • significant catches of ovigerous (egg-bearing) females despite being prohibited (Hearn 2008)
Natural events such as the 1998 El Nino event have compounded declines, together with the collapse of the sea cucumber fishery (first in Ecuador and then the Galapagos) and external market forces. Serious efforts to regulate the fishery were only made in 1998, by which point the industrial fleet (mostly from Ecuador) had already left and lobsters had largely disappeared from the intertidal zone, where they were formerly most abundant. Since then the commons-based management practices set out have been largely ignored or not enforced, with regulatory agreements diluted to placate fishers so-called "convenience overfishing" (Hearn 2008). This overexploitation has led to what Hearn (2008) terms a "crisis in the fishing sector", with knock-on ecosystem effects (e.g., changes in benthic community structure) resulting from the decline in spiny lobsters. An example of this is the decline in non-corraline algae from highly fished sites (Sonnenholzner et al. 2009). It is not known whether lobster stocks will recover in the near future (Sale et al. 2008).

Thailand: This species is sold in local markets and directly to restaurants on the west coast (Holthuis 1991).

India: This species is caught in small quantities, and is not a major target for fisheries. Catches of other Panulirus species have decreased markedly since 1987 in trawl fisheries (Phillips and Melville-Smith 2006).

Kenya: This species is caught along with four other Panulirus species in small quantities (Phillips and Melville-Smith 2006). The lobster stock status is currently Overfished (FAO 2009).

Tanzania: This species is harvested by artisanal fishermen and industrial trawlers. The artisanal fishery accounts for more than 99 % of the country's total catch (FAO 2008). The stock is classified by the FAO as Fully Exploited and abundance indicies are decreasing. There are no management measures in place (FAO 2009).

Egypt: this is the only species of spiny lobster found in fish markets (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

Saudi Arabia: This species supports a semi-commercial fishery north of Jeddah to the Gulf of Aqaba (Tortell 2004).

Pakistan: Average lobster catches (Panulirus species) between 1971 and 2007 were about 480 t/yr (FAO 2009).

New Caledonia: Along with Panulirus longipes bispinosus this is the main species of lobster commercially harvested in the New Caledonian lagoon (Coutures and Chauvet 2001). As this is artisanal fishery is poorly developed there is no threat to this species.

Solomon Islands: An artisanal fishery exists for this species, which is the primary lobster species taken. A survey from the late 1970s concluded that the resource was exploitable but small, although there is a growing interest in export of this species (Richards et al. 1994).

Taiwan: This is a commercially important species off the southeast coast of Taiwan, harvested throughout the year (Chang et al. 2009). Minimum catch limits (20 cm) are not enforced, which is potentially a threat to this species (Chang et al. 2009).

Seychelles: An artisanal fishery exists for this and other Panulirus species (Robinson and Azemia 2007). The Mahe stock is classified as Fully Exploited /Overexploited by the FAO, and catches are down by 40 - 50 % on previous years (FAO 2009).

Sri Lanka: This species is caught on the west coast by traps, although it is not the dominant lobster species. Divers also operate. The stock was intensively exploited in the past (De Bruin 1978).

Australia: This species is caught very infrequently off the coast of Queensland and makes up less than 0.5% of the spiny lobster catch (Atfield et al. 2004).

Madagascar: This species is commercially caught using traps, and less often by divers and night-fishing with spears. The only fishery is on the south coast, between Androka and Manantenina. Catch (in tonnes) from 1966 to 1983 are shown below (from Ralison 1988; includes Panulirus homarus):

1966 - 110; 1971 - 80; 1973 - 120; 1974 - 120; 1975 - 75; 1976 - 135; 1977 - 130; 1978 - 75; 1979 - 58.5; 1980 - 64.2; 1981 - 121.4; 1982 - 86.4; 1983 - 76.4.

Giudicelli (1984) suggested a potential yield in Madagascar of at least 1,000 t/yr.

Palauan Archipelago: This species and P. versicolor are important for commercial and subsistence fisheries. They are mainly harvested by spear but also by hand (Fitzpatrick and Johnson 2007). Commercial fishing began in 1966 and there are signs that the lobster stock is overexploited (catches of between nine and 25 t/yr from 1989 to 1998) (Fitzpatrick and Donaldson 2007).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although this species is harvested across its range, declines are localised and not known across the entire range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In New Caledonia's artisanal fishery, Coutures and Chauvet (2001) calculated a maximum yield at weights of 350 to 400 g (for a fishing effort corresponding to a mortality rate of 0.15). This size corresponds to an age of two to four years, at which point the lobster is already an adult. The minimum size at first capture was recommended at 7.5 cm (Coutures and Chauvet 2001).

In Taiwan a minimum size limit of 20 cm total length is set for all spiny lobster species.. However, this is not enforced, and egg-bearing females and small lobsters are common at local markets (Chang et al. 2009).

In the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) there are several management tools. The Provisional Zonation Scheme, agreed in 2000, divides the GMR into three zones (coastal, open water and port), and permits fishing in 78% of the coastal zone (the other 22% being either no-take or tourist areas) (Hearn 2008). The primary fisheries management tool is the Five Year Fishing Calender (2002 - 2006). This regulates the lobster catch to 4 months of the year, stipulates a minimum landing length of 26 cm, and bans the catch of ovigerous females (Hearn 2008). Quotas have been hinted at but not formally laid out, although corrective measures must be taken if catch per unit effort (CPUE) falls below a threshold of 5.8 kg diver day-1 (which it has done several times since 1998). These include closure of areas, reduction in effort, and a quota no greater than 31 tonnes of lobster tails (Hearn 2008). Monitoring and independent surveys are also carried out by fishers and scientists (Hearn 2008).

Solomon Islands: legislation bans the sale or purchase of this species with a carapace length of less than 8 cm and ovigerous females (Richards et al. 1994).

Seychelles: There is a monitoring programme in place for this species, operating three months/yr and beginning in 1992 (Robinson and Azemia 2007).

Although some species-specific conservation measures are in place for this species, further research is required to determine an accurate index of abundance for this species, and the extent to which it is impacted upon by threats within its range. In addition, stricter enforcement of current management regimes is necessary.

Citation: Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Butler, M. 2011. Panulirus penicillatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T169951A6691002. . Downloaded on 19 April 2018.
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