Islanders, commercial non-indigenous fishers and Papua New Guinea fishers share the tropical rock lobster fishery, Panulirus ornatus (Fabricius) in Torres Strait. As the fishery is in the process of moving from input to output controls, a pre-implementation understanding of indigenous fishers' perceptions of the potential impact of different quota management systems is gained. This study, based on workshops and interviews, considers the impact of competitive quota, community quota and a hybrid system with individually tradeable quota (ITQ), and broadens the current biological focus of fisheries management through consideration of economic, social and cultural aspects. The perceived quota system impact on indigenous lobster fishers largely mirrors the experience internationally, with unlimited access and self-determination considered most important. The heterogeneity of the indigenous sector increases the management complexity for this fishery, but needs to be taken into consideration if unexpected consequences of the chosen quota management system are to be avoided.