It’s a sticky summer day with a light breeze coming in from the harbour. The trawlers are getting ready to come in, you’ve got an esky in your lap, and you’re having lobster for dinner.

This saline-soaked memory is shared by generations of Western Australians, including Western Rock Lobster Council deputy chair and active commercial fisherman Fedele Camarda. “Waiting on the rocks for the boat to come in with Mum, and my brothers and sister. That’s probably the earliest memory.”

Operating along more than 20,000 kilometres of coastline, the western rock lobster industry is one of Australia’s most valuable wild-caught fishery industries, and one of the most sustainable. (In 2000, the Western Rock Lobster Council was also the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.)

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Ever since Camarda was a kid, he remembers fishers selling crustations directly from their boats, but the practice ramped up in 2020 thanks to Covid-19 and the introduction of steep Chinese tariffs. Now 95 fishing vessels are regularly delivering almost 100 tonnes of live lobsters to customers at 20 ports along the coast via the state’s Back of Boat sales initiative.

The community and relationships formed between fishers and their customers through Back of Boat are strong; some travel from across the city for their favourite boat.

One of Carmada’s loyal customers, Kim Ting, has been buying lobsters off the boats since 2020. “It’s been so wonderful,” Ting tells Broadsheet. “They will tell you what time they’ll arrive at the jetty, and if you don’t know where to go, they’ll give you the Google map link to guide you.”

New customers can log into the Western Rock Lobster Back of Boat online platform and select ports from Mandurah to Kalbarri. You then place an order to pick up on a specific day and location, or use the fisher directory to contact the boat directly. The lobsters are graded on weight and their value reflects the daily market price.
There is also information on lobster handling, preparation and recipes – particularly useful ahead of the holiday season.