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Standard Names: Balmain Bug, Moreton Bay Bug

Use the following links to find more information about Government Stock Assessments and the commercial fisheries for Moreton Bay Bug and Balmain Bug

The term 'Bugs' refers to two groups. Moreton Bay Bug is a term used to refer to 2 specific members of the Thenus genus found mainly off the coast of QLD. Balmain Bug refers to 7 members of the Ibacus genus and are more temperate, found mainly off the NSW coast.

Both genera are caught predominantly as bycatch of the prawn and scallop fisheries. They are available frozen year round, with the availability of live or whole cooked bugs reflecting the season of the local prawn fisheries. Caught by trawl resulting in some habitat damage and bycatch. Vulnerable to overfishing as species are long lived with low reproductive rates.

Imported meat from Asia is sold frozen or thawed, it is most likely a different species and genus.

Government Stock Assessment
Overfishing Biomass AMCS Listing Accreditations
Balmain Bug NSW Fully Fished Eat Less -
QLD Sustainable -
Moreton Bay Bug NSW Fully Fished Eat Less -
QLD Sustainable -
(incl. Northern
Prawn Fishery)
Sustainably Fished -
WA Undefined - -
Deepwater Bugs Commonwealth Not Subject to
Uncertain - -
Smooth Bug NSW Fully Fished - -
  What do these terms mean?

Sustainable Alternatives:


Cooked and Green King Prawns

PRAWN meat is similar to that of bugs, being firm and sweet, as well as moist when cooked correctly. A good substitute for both groups of Bug when grilling or barbecuing. Cook whole or split larger prawns down the length of the body and cook briefly on high heat. Don't overcook or they will become dry. Prawns are also a suitable substitute in cold seafood platters or salads. Buy cooked or blanch briefly in boiling water, refreshing in iced water to halt the cooking process before peeling.

ALTERNATIVE 2: Rocklobster

Southern Rocklobster

ROCKLOBSTER has firm, sweet and rich meat that can replace Bugs in recipes calling for grilling, barbecuing or steaming. Split down the centre and clean out the entrails before cooking, or buy cooked. Overcooked meat will be tough, so consider using a butter flavoured with herbs or garlic during cooking to ensure that it remains juicy.

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