Panulirus ornatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Palinuridae

Scientific Name: Panulirus ornatus (Fabricius, 1798)
Common Name(s):
English Ornate Spiny Lobster
Palinurus ornatus Fabricus, 1798

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-12-03
Assessor(s): Cockcroft, A., Butler, M. & MacDiarmid, A.
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 ornatus has been assessed as Least Concern. This is a widespread species and is abundant in parts of its range. While it is harvested by a number of countries, much of this operates on a small scale. The main fisheries can be found in the Torres Strait, India and Kenya. Following a population crash between 1999 and 2001 in the Torres Strait, stock abundance appears to be recovering although data for more recent years is lacking. The fishery in India has shown dramatic declines in catch per unit effort and catches are largely dominated by juveniles and subadults. The breeding population is thought to be protected from exploitation as it is thought that adults migrate offshore to breed. This is the most abundant palinurid species off Kenya and comprises the bulk of the lobster catch in this country; further data is needed on stock abundance and harvest levels in this fishery.

Monitoring of harvest levels, particularly CPUE should be carried out to check for possible increases in exploitation level. Additionally current fisheries management regimes should be maintained with stricter enforcement of management in areas of over-exploitation. 

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from the Indo-West Pacific. It ranges from Natal in South Africa, along the coast of East Africa and the Red Sea, to southern Japan, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia (Northern Territory south to New South Wales), New Caledonia and Fiji (Holthuis 1991). A single specimen has been collected from the Red Sea off the coast of Israel (Holthuis 1991).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland); Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku); Kenya; Mozambique; New Caledonia; Papua New Guinea; Saudi Arabia; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal); Tanzania, United Republic of; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):50
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is abundant in parts of its range.

Torres Strait Fishery

The largest of the fisheries on this species exists in the Torres Strait and the east coast of Papua New Guinea. Prior to the 1960s this was an artisanal fishery which has since expanded to a commercial scale. The fishery is managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) under the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) (Ye et al. 2006). Management of the fishery has placed a limit on the number of licences allocated to non-islander fishers, while the islander fisher sector has been allowed to expand. The commercial fishery has grown gradually since the 1960s and now has some 24 freezer boats in operation and ~500 dinghies (Pitcher and Bishop 1995). As the lobsters will not enter pots, most individuals are caught by spearing or by free divers in shallower waters (Pitcher, Dennis and Skewes 1997). During the 1970s/1980s this species was caught in prawn trawls, however a ban was put in place in 1984 to conserve migrating breeding individuals (Dennis et al. 2006). Over the past three decades, the annual catch of this species has ranged from 120 to 800 tonnes with an average of 480 tonnes. Annual catches showed an increasing trend until 1999 when they declined dramatically until 2001. Since 2001 catches have increased once again and are now above the long term average.

As of 1989, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) started to conduct visual surveys during May and June to gain information on recruit abundance and thereby make future forecasts on the stock abundance. Their surveys on numbers of individuals in year class 1+ and 2+ confirm the population crash as seen during 1999-2001 and the subsequent increase in landings; since 2001 there has been an increasing trend in the number of year class 1+ and 2+ individuals, other than in 2005 when there was a small decrease (Dennis et al. 2006). Until 1997, there was no formal system in place for monitoring catch per unit effort (CPUE), however the AFMA logbooks have since been made compulsory (Dennis et al. 2006).

India Fishery

In the southwest fishery of India, this species is landed in very small quantities. However, in the southeast coast fishery it is landed in significant quantites and during the period 1993-2002 it dominated 60.6% of the total lobster catch (Radhakrishnan et al. 2005). During this time this species increased in length from 175 mm (TL) to 195 mm (TL). From 1993 to 1998 the CPUE  for this species and P. homarus in the gill-net fishery at Kayalpattinam, fell from ~6.5 kg/unit to almost 0 kg/unit, however in 1999 it rose again to ~1.5 kg/unit and has remained relatively stable till 2002. From 1993 to 1998, the gill-net fishery at Tharuvaikulam also saw a dramatic decline from ~2.25 kg/unit to ~0.1 kg/unit. Between 1999 and 2001 it remained at this level and then rose to ~0.6 kg/unit in 2002 (Radhakrishnan et al. 2005). Much of the inshore catch of this species comprises juveniles and subadults, which may have an adverse effect on the future viability of this population, however it is possible that adults are migrating to deeper waters in the Palk Strait to breeding grounds and are thereby protected from exploitation (Radhakrishnan et al. 2005).

South Africa Fishery

This species is taken in very low quantities off South Africa, but is more common and important to fisheries in Mozambique (Steyn, Fielding and Schleyer 2008).

East African Fishery

This is the most important Palinurid species to Kenyan fisheries (Kulmiye and Mavuti 2005) and is the most abundant species of palinurid off the coast of Tanzania (Kyomo 1999). This species occurs in small numbers off Madagascar (Pichon 1964).

In Kenya, this species is fished across the country, however much of the catch is derived from around the islands of Lamu, Manda, Pate and Kiwayu. It is mainly caught by divers at a maximum depth of 7 m. In 1984 the total landings were reported at 127 tonnes (de Sousa 1988).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is known from slightly turbid coastal waters, sandy and muddy substrates, rocky and coral reefs; most commonly to depths of 8 m, though there are a few records documenting it to 50 m (Holthuis 1991).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested throughout its range for food, although most fisheries operate on a small scale (Holthuis 1991).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threat processes currently impacting this species. It is harvested throughout its range and there have been previous declines and fluctuations in landings, however the majority of operations harvesting this species are small-scale and presently well-managed with appropriate restrictions in place (Dennis, Prescott, Ye and Skewes 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Management restrictions on the Torres Strait Fishery include a minimum size limit, closed fishing season, restrictions on the gear type and number of licences. For example, through the 1990s the fishery was managed in such a way as to allow ~70% escapement of individuals by employing a minimum size limit of 100 mm, a ban on 'hookah' diving during October through November, and only allowing free dive fishing.  Furthermore, in response to the decline in landings in 1999, management strategies were revised based on a CSIRO fishery model and were employed as of 2002. These new management strategies include a ban on fishing during October through November, a ban on 'hookah' diving during December through January, and a minimum size limit of 90 mm (CL). From 2003 to 2005 non-islander fishing effort was reduced by 30% to try and maintain total catch under the maximum sustainable yield of 640 tonnes whole weight (Dennis et al. 2006).

Further information and monitoring of CPUE is required on the harvest levels of this species off East Africa and how stock abundance has changed over time.

Citation: Cockcroft, A., Butler, M. & MacDiarmid, A. 2011. Panulirus ornatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T169987A6700058. . Downloaded on 20 July 2018.
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