Flathead for the Future

Following the Scalefish Rules Review, new regional rules apply for sand flathead. Make sure you know the rules where you're fishing.

Stocks of Tasmania's favourite recreational fish, the sand flathead, are suffering from serious decline around the state. Sand flathead accounts for almost 70 per cent of all recreationally caught finfish in Tasmania.

Through the Flathead for the Future program, the Government is working with fishers, researchers and the community to put sand flathead on the path to recovery.

Flathead for the future colour logo white background 

Learn what we're doing:


Where we are currently

The annual IMAS Scalefish Fishery assessment has identified heavy recreational fishing pressure as the primary cause of sand flathead decline.

Heavy fishing pressure has impacted the sand flathead fishery in a number of ways:

  • Numbers of legal-size flathead are low.
  • The average size of a flathead is getting smaller.
  • Most flathead are caught within a year of reaching legal size in heavily fished areas.
  • Large breeding females are depleted in most areas.
  • Fishing is removing faster-growing fish, leaving more genetically stunted flathead to breed.
Sand flathead fishery biomass (the weight of all the fish in the stock) is down to 17% of what it would be in an unfished fishery in some heavily fished areas. This is below the internationally recognised level of 20% where urgent management action is required.

Putting sand flathead on the path to recovery

We need to significantly reduce how much sand flathead we catch. Rule changes through the Scalefish Rules Review were an important step in reducing catch, but the everyday choices and stewardship of the recreational fishing community are also critical for recovering sand flathead.

Find out some of the simple steps you can take on your next fishing trip to help get this iconic species back on its feet.

There are also multiple sand flathead research projects planned or underway to inform the recovery process. These projects are part of a $3.3 million research program with the Fisheries Research Development Corporation, which includes a $900 000 contribution from the Tasmanian Government. 

Research findings will inform a sand flathead harvest strategy, which NRE Tas will develop with fishers, researchers and other stakeholders. The harvest strategy will provide a management framework to achieve stock recovery and maintain a sustainable fishery so future generations of Tasmanians can continue to enjoy catching sand flathead.

  • Sand flathead science
    Learn about the research that underpins sand flathead management decisions and that will help us achieve a more sustainable flathead future.
  • Help sand flathead recover
    Helping sand flathead stocks recover is every fisher's responsibilty. Here's what you can do to help.


‚ÄčRecreational Fishing Enquiries
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647
Email: fishing.enquiries@nre.tas.gov.au


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

What to report? arrow button

Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647

Email: fishing.enquiries@nre.tas.gov.au

Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550

Email: commercial.fisheries@nre.tas.gov.au

Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550

Email: fishing.licensing@nre.tas.gov.au