Spiny Lobster

Panulirus ornatus
Panulirus homarus

Common Name(s)

• English: Ornate spiny lobster, tropical rock lobster, ornate rock lobster, ornate tropical rock lobster • French: Langouste ornée • Spanish: Langosta ornamentada

Insufficient Information

Insufficient information to assess risk


There is evidence that many of the potential environmental risks of the operation are managed at some level, however risks are not fully mitigated, and there is still room for improvement.


At least one of the environmental risk criteria has been scored high risk, and this is having a significant impact on the sustainability of the operation.

Traditional Chinese

龍蝦 Long Ha, 花龍 Fa Long, 彩龍 Choi Long, 錦繡龍蝦 Gam Sau Long Ha

Simplified Chinese





Kung mangkon

Date of Assessments

July 2020

Peer Reviewer

Dr Clive Jones, James Cook University, Australia

James Cook University, Australia

Assessment Organisation

RS Standards


Available throughout the year



  • Panulirus ornatus and Panulirus homarus are the only two spiny lobster species being developed for aquaculture, and the FAO production statistics do not differentiate between the two. Generally speaking, P.ornatus is the main cultivated species in Vietnam, with a developing aquaculture industry for P. homarus in Indonesia.
  • Production of ornatus accounts for ~80% of farmed spiny lobster, and in 2016 was estimated to be about 1600 tonnes, worth more than US$120 million
  • P.ornatus and P. homarus are tropical spiny lobster species native to the Indo-Pacific region that have become popular aquaculture species in recent decades. A surge in demand for these crustaceans came in the 1980s from China as the middle class began expanding, and led to the farming system that now exists in several Southeast Asian countries.
  • The wild fishery for large P.ornatus began to experience declines in the 1990s due to overfishing, so fishermen turned to catching smaller lobsters and fattening them up in pens, a process known as ranching.
  • P.ornatus is currently farm-raised in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia.
  • Farming of P.homarus is currently being expanded in Indonesia with support from Australian aquaculture research.
  • Aquaculture of the species is entirely dependent upon wild caught juveniles as hatchery technology has not reached commercialization scale due to the lobster’s lengthy larvae stage.
  • Spiny lobsters are primarily caught in the puerulus stage (plural pueruli), a postlarva stage during which they do not feed and actively swim toward the coast to settle. Puerulus resemble the adult lobster form but is not yet a juvenile until after the first molt.
  • As the industry continues to expand, there are concerns regarding sustainability of seed supply, feed source, disease and pollution. At present there is no hatchery supply for P. ornatus or P. homarus. Whilst the majority of producers are using trash fish as feed, formulated pellet feeds are becoming increasingly available.
  • New policy developments in Indonesia with support from Australia will focus on the commercialisation of manufactured feeds and a requirement that they be used rather than trash fish.

Net Pens / Cages, Spiny Lobster

Spiny lobster aquaculture takes place in net pens and cages in coastal waters. Floating cages consist of netting that is suspended from the surface and moored to the bottom, meanwhile pens are made up of netting that reaches the seafloor, enclosing the bottom of the pen. Both pens and cages are typically homemade with local materials, such as bamboo and rope, and square in design. Multiple square cages or pens with different sized lobster may be tied together, enabling ease of access for the farmer. The nursery stage also occurs in floating net cages or pens on the seafloor.

  • The latin species name
  • Evidence of the country of origin, name and location of the farm
  • Evidence that the farm is compliant with national regulations
  • Evidence that production is controlled in a way that minimises impact on the wider marine environment (i.e. there is local planning, water quality testing etc.)
  • Evidence of where the seed originates
  • Evidence that the seed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence of where the feed originates
  • Evidence that the feed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence that the farm does not use any banned medicines / chemicals
  • Evidence that there is a plan / procedure in place to manage animal husbandry


No Known FIP


  • Spiny Lobster production in Vietnam can be considered to be a high risk.
  • The main spiny lobster species farmed in Vietnam is Panulirus ornatus.
  • Whilst planning laws exist, they are not effective at mitigating all environmental impacts. Feed typically comes from “trash fish” and conversion very inefficient, typically requiring 25-50kg of input for every 1kg lobster produced.
  • Disease is also a major problem in the lobster aquaculture industry of Vietnam, due to high density, pollution created by feed, and poor nutrition from feed.
  • Vietnam boasts the most productive tropical lobster aquaculture industry in the world. When the wild capture fishery began declining, with decreasing catch and size, Vietnamese fishers began holding on to the smaller lobsters until they reached a larger size and were ready for market.
  • Lobster farming methods have not changed much since development in the 1990s. Grow out facilities include cages originally built in shallow water with netting and wooden stakes secured into the seafloor; most are now a floating design moored to the bottom, made with re-used plastic drums and timber, exhibiting square cross section cages that together create a framework of numerous cages.
  • Spiny Lobster production in Indonesia can be considered to be a medium risk.
  • The main spiny lobster species farmed in Indonesia is Panulirus homarus.
  • Planning laws are only partially effective, and there is less regulation in Indonesia than in other countries, although this is now changing.
  • There is a high reliance on wild-caught fish for feed, with very inefficient conversion rates. However, new policy in Indonesia with support by Australia will focus on the commercialisation of manufactured feeds and a requirement that they be used rather than trash fish.
  • Disease is less of a problem than in other regions due to the smaller number of producers.
  • Lobster aquaculture began in Indonesia in the early 2000s. The industry is still in a developmental stage, but production has steadily increased over the past several years, as has its geographic footprint.
  • There is insufficient information to assess the risk of spiny lobster production in the Philippines.
  • A small amount of lobster farming takes place in the Philippines where it is largely undertaken on a subsistence scale.
  • A substantial wild seed resource has been confirmed along the east coast of the Philippines in 2018 through a USDA funded project. The resource has not been quantified, but is sufficient to support a large-scale lobster farming industry.
  • The Philippines government recently announced a National Lobster Development Plan to provide a framework and resources to support development of a sustainable industry. The Philippines can be considered to be one to two years behind Indonesia, with similar potential.
  • There is insufficient information to assess the risk of spiny lobster production in the Malaysia.
  • Lobster aquaculture has not developed in Malaysia as it has in the other countries noted, and investment has stalled.
  • The Integrated Lobster Aquaculture Park developed for ornatus in 2014 was intended to act as a hatchery as well as a grow out facility, taking the lobster from larvae to market size. However, as of 2015 there was no production from the facility following the exit of the main investor.