Commercial Dive Fishery


The Tasmanian commercial dive fishery is a growing fishery that selectively harvests three key species by hand from small vessels. The fishery has traditionally harvested two native species – short-spined sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) and periwinkles (Lunella undulata) – but has grown exponentially in recent years by increasingly targeting the range-extended long-spined sea urchin species, Centrostephanus rodgersii.

The urchin fishery operates almost year-round because the two urchin species spawn at different times of year, enabling each to be harvested when the roe quality peaks before spawning.

The fishery has been operating since the mid-1980s, was formalised with a management plan in 2005, and remains predominately owner-operated today with around 53 licences.​


Periwinkles, also known as warreners or turbos - Image courtesy IMAS

Managing the fishery 

​The Commercial Dive Fishery is managed under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 and Fisheries (Commercial Dive) Rules 2021.

Recreational bag and possession limits do not apply to urchins, but there is a daily personal​​ bag limit of 100 periwinkles. 

Commercial limits do not apply to long-spined sea urchin.

Commercial limits do apply to native short-spined sea urchin and periwinkles. Minimum size limits ensure animals can spawn at least twice before they enter the fishery, and a total allowable catch (TAC) per species is divided across the five Commercial Dive Zones to spread fishing effort. Once a TAC is reached, that zone is closed for the remainder of the licensing year. 

Visit the Catch and Closure​ page for current catch and closure updates for all species.​

Species information

Periwinkles, Lunella undulata

Periwinkle illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe


Periwinkles, also known locally as warrener or turbo, are native marine whelks that inhabit the Tasmanian intertidal zone. 

Periwinkles have a strong muscular foot and thick shells with brilliant banding ranging in colour from bright green to brown and yellow.

Periwinkles are marketed live to be fresh cooked by the consumer, and the flesh is firm with a mild salty flavour. 

Harvest peak: August to November

Short-spined sea urchin, Heliocidaris erythrogramma

Sea urchin illustration (small)

Sea urchin

The short-spined sea urchin is native and endemic to Tasmania where they perform important ecological functions.  

The urchin has short solid spines, and is coloured purple, green or white. The colour can change across the test and spines. 

The roe, also called uni, has a delicate favour and is highly prized in Asian markets where it attracts a considerable price. 

Harvest peak: July to February

Long-spined sea urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii


Long-spined sea urchin

​The long-spined sea urchin is a range extended species that has established locally. Urchin larvae arrive on the East Australian Current and settle all along the East Coast.  

This highly adaptable urchin thrives in the cool waters of Tasmania, where it has few predators beyond large lobsters. Their voracious appetite strips the seafloor of plant life, leaving barrens that can stretch for hectares. The urchins can survive in barrens, but the loss of food and habitat poses a threat to other marine species, ecosystems, and key fisheries like abalone and rock lobster.

The urchin is identifiable by long spines that are half the length of the test diameter. Colours vary from dark brown to black, with a turquoise-like sheen on the spines and red down the centre. 

They produce double the amount of roe as their native counterpart, in excess of 10% of their body weight, with a robust flavour and uniform yellow colour. Considerable investment in recent years has opened new markets for both the edible roe, and the urchin test/spines which can be processed into nutrient-rich fertiliser, resulting in a low waste fishery. 

Harvesting peak: January to July​​

​More information 

 Commercial Dive Policy Paper 2011 (PDF 87Kb)

 2022-23 TAC Caps Borders Notification Letter to Stakeholders (PDF 107Kb)​

 Instrument of exemption - Take Centro from research areas Elephant Rock North Bay (PDF 62Kb)​

Long spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus) IMAS Research 

FRDC project 2017-033: Fisheries biology of short-spined sea urchins​


Commercial Dive Management
Level 3, 134 Macquarie Street
GPO Box 44
Phone: 0457 124 668
Email: commercial.fishe​


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

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Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550


Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550