- The Strategy has been largely successful. Most areas of the East Coast achieved this rebuilding goal. The remaining area is on target to meet this rebuild target by 2025.
- An East Coast
supports stock rebuilding by relocating undersize lobsters from deep
water, slow growth areas in the south west to inshore waters in the East
Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone (ECSRZ).
- From 2024 onwards, the continued rebuild of East Coast rock lobster stocks will be managed through the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Harvest Strategy, which is currently being developed.
About the East Coast fishery
The East Coast is a particularly important area for the rock lobster fishery in Tasmania. Around 70% of recreational rock lobster fishing occurs in the East Coast, which also supports a small, dedicated commercial fleet.
Rock lobster stocks on the East Coast reached historically low levels during 2011-12. In response, a strategy to rebuild stocks in this area was implemented, the
East Coast Rock Lobster Stock Rebuilding Strategy.
Environmental factors including warming waters also impacted the fishery. There has been a significant loss of kelp forests and related ecosystems along the East Coast. The invasive longspined sea urchin is well established, forming large barrens where productive lobster habitat once existed.
The East Coast Rock Lobster Stock Rebuilding Zone is the area between Eddystone Point near St Helens and Tasman Head on Bruny Island.
The Strategy ran for ten years from 2013 to 2023. The aim was to rebuild rock lobster stocks to greater than 20% of the unfished stock (or virgin biomass) by limiting the total catch each year on the East Coast.
Actions implemented under the Strategy for the commercial and recreational fisheries included:
- Defining the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone, the area between Eddystone Point near St Helens and Tasman Head on Bruny Island.
- Setting an annual commercial
East Coast Catch Cap in 2014. When catch approaches the catch trigger, the commercial ECSRZ fishery closes until the following March.
- Reducing recreational bag and possession limits (2015 season).
- Shortening recreational season length by delaying the opening (2014 and 2018) and introducing an Eastern Region winter closure from 1 May 2016.
Increasing size limits for all fishers in 2022 to boost egg production and better reflect regional lobster growth rates and size at maturity.
These settings will continue to apply while the Rock Lobster Harvest Strategy is developed over the next two years. To keep the rebuild on track, further management changes may be introduced in future.
IMAS report the biomass for each stock assessment area in annual stock assessments so ongoing progress towards achieving the 20% goal can be monitored. There are also surveys of recreational fishers in the Eastern Region monitor the total recreational catch each year.