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An Encouraging Future for the Southern Rock Lobster

Paper Reviewed
Hinojosa, I., Gardner, C., Green, B.S., Jeffs, A., Leon, R. and Linnane, A. 2017. Differing environmental drivers of settlement across the range of southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) suggest resilience of the fishery to climate change. Fisheries Oceanography 26: 49-64.

Writing as background for their work, Hinojosa et al. (2017) note that the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) supports "valuable commercial and recreational fisheries" for both Australia and New Zealand, accounting for approximately 6,500 tons harvested per year at a value of around $450 million USD. Given as much, it is important for researchers to monitor and understand the factors that contribute to the settlement of this benthic marine species. Such knowledge, for example, can be helpful in determining its response to potential climate change, for, in the words of the six scientists, "examining the processes which influence the spatial and temporal variability in larval settlement advances the understanding of population dynamics and can lead to the development of new predictive tools." And so it was that Hinojosa et al. determined to examine the temporal and spatial trends in settlement of the southern rock lobster along the Southern Australian and New Zealand coasts over the period 1994-2011. Specifically, they analyzed lobster settlement data from thirteen sites and correlated it with a number of climate/ocean forcing indices using generalized least squares models.

Results of their analysis indicated that factors determining the settlement of the southern rock lobster are "part of a complex process" where "larval behavior, biological factors and oceanographic processes interact over different scales," such that "conditions that reduced settlement strength in one region of the fishery often increased settlement strength in other regions."

Commenting on these findings, Hinojosa et al. say they suggest "resilience to climate change at the stock level" for the southern rock lobster, and that is extremely good news for those worried about the potential effects of climate change on marine life.

Posted 10 February 2017