South Coast Rock Lobster (Palinurus gilchristi) are known locally in South Africa as crayfish or kreel. While they are not true lobsters – because they don’t have pincers – they are just as tasty as the real deal.
Commercial fisheries catch about 800 tons of them a year. However, the industry is highly regulated to prevent overfishing – and the penalty is stiff if you’re caught taking crayfish from coastal waters illegally. It takes a male crayfish between seven and 10 years to reach a size large enough to catch legally; and for a female it can take up to 20 years.
Rock lobsters have a hard exo-skeleton which they shed periodically when they grow. They are vulnerable to predators when their new shell is still soft.