Panulirus penicillatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Panulirus penicillatus
Species Authority: (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).
American Samoa (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, Irian Jaya, Jawa, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Is., Maluku, 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 – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
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).
Population Trend: Unknown

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).
Systems: Marine

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. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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