Recreational Fisheries Research

What's the Catch - ​​​Recreational Fishing Survey

Over 3000 Tasmanian households were surveyed between December 2017 and November 2018 to see if they fish recreationally. Almost 600 of these households, representing 1500 people then provided details of their fishing activities over a 12 month period.

How much fishing is being done?

  • ​​Almost one in four Tasmanians or 106,000 people went fishing at least once.
  • They fish an average of 5 days per year.
  • Males aged between 45-59 represent the highest number of fishers.
  • Twice as many males (71,000) as females (35,000) went fishing.​

What’s the catch?

  • ​​Flathead continues to be the most popular recreationally caught fish in Tasmania, accounting for 70% of all finfish caught. Around 1.7 million flathead were caught with 56% released.
  • Sand flathead accounts for 96% of the flathead catch, with 3% tiger flathead and <1% bluespot flathead
  • Other important species were Australian salmon (130 000) and trout (206 000).

Catches of Recreational Scalefish 2017-18

​Species ​Caught ​Kept ​Released
​Flathead​1,700,000​733,000​948,000 (56%)
Trout​206,000​86,000​120,000 (58%)
Australian Salmon​129,000​81,000​49,000 (38%)
King George Whiting​24,000 14,000 ​41%
​Jackass Morwong
Silver Trevally
Sharks and Rays
​Leatherjacket14,900​ 7,500​49%​
Striped Trumpeter
​School Whiting
​7,400 ​4,600 ​36%

How much do fishers spend?

  • ​Around $161 million or an average of $1,800 per fisher is spent annually on boats, fishing gear and other items.
  • This amount includes $16 million on boating and fishing gear, tackle and bait.

Salt vs fresh water, boat or shore fishers?

  • Almost 75% of all fishing effort occurred in saltwater, with the rest being in freshwater.
  • 60% of fishing is boat-based and 40% is shore-based.

Fishing by region

  • Over half the state's total fishing effort (51%) occurred off the east and south-east coasts.

How are the survey results used?

The survey data is used in fisheries stock assessments together with commercial catch data to sustainably manage Tasmania's fisheries.

The survey results are available in several formats:

Download the What's the Catch mini-posterDownload Angling for Information the IMAS infographic brochure​Read the full IMAS report: 2017-18 Survey of Recreational Fishing in Tasmania

Recreational Rock Lobster Catch App Trial

Recreational fishers can log their rock lobster catches in a catch app as part of a research trial aiming to improve recreational rock lobster fishery management. Read more about the project, or download the app here.

​​​​​​​​​​​​Recreational Scallop Fishery​ Survey 2022

IMAS conduct surveys of long-term scallop sampling sites in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and have recently released the 2022 report.  This year, several sites at Bull Bay and White Beach were surveyed. The surveys were conducted using tow cameras, whereas previous surveys have been conducted by divers. 

There are signs of recovery for both commercial and queen scallops in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel but not to extent that justifies an open season in the Channel in the near future. This is important as this area is heavily reliant on self-recruitment and further rebuilding of adult stocks is needed before any fishing could be justified.

The White Beach area had patchy populations of scallops with signs that this popular area is being impacted by fishing pressure.

Read the full report​ here.

Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone: 2021-22 Catch Estimates

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) surveys a proportion of recreational rock lobster and abalone fishers annually including estimates of catch, days fished, and social information including stock status perceptions, fishing quality and management.

The survey uses the phone/diary method, where participants are contacted by phone then issued a diary to record their fishing details. They are contacted throughout the season by an interviewer who records their fishing details. This methodology has been independently confirmed as the most cost-effective way of accurately estimating catch.

Rock Lobster Summary - Season 2021-22

Over 18,200 licenced rock lobster fishers (approximately the same number as in 2020-21) took an estimated total catch of 79,365 rock lobster during the period from the 6th November 2021 to 30th April 2022. rock lobster southern

  • There were 14,889 pot, 9137 dive; and 4,058 ring licences.
  • The average catch rate was 0.94 lobsters per day with daily harvest rates for diving (1.69 lobster) more than double that for pots (0.76 lobster).
  • 67% of fishers used pots, 30% dive and less than 3% use rings to catch lobsters.
  • 61% of the catch (by weight) was taken from the East Coast, 15.9% North Coast and 23.4% from the West Coast.

The catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone was estimated at 46.5 tonnes.

The recreational catch for 2021-22 is estimated at 86.3 tonnes, which is 51% of the total allowable recreational catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes. This is equivalent to about 7.1% of the 2021-22 total allowable catch (TAC) of 1221 tonnes, which includes the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) of 1051 tonnes.

Abalone Summary - Season 2021-22

Blacklip abalone 

11,780 recreational abalone licence holders harvested an estimated 41,552 abalone (20.1 tonnes) between 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021. By numbers, 70% of the catch was taken from the East Coast, 18% from the North Coast and 13% from the West Coast.

The Eastern region daily bag limit of 10 abalone was achieved on about 14% of all dives targeting abalone, with an overall average harvest rate of 4.7 abalone per day. By contrast, the Western region daily bag limit of 10 abalone was taken on about 28% of dives.

The recreational harvest of 20.1 tonnes ​equates to approximately 3% of the 2022 Total Allowable Commercial Catch (795 tonnes), noting however, the survey only accounts for recreational harvest up until April rather than the full year.


Over twenty percent (23.4%) of survey participants who actively fished indicated they have been checked by Marine Police during 2021-22.

 Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Fisheries 2021-2022 Fishing Season (PDF 2Mb)

For Abalone and Rock Lobster Stock Assessment Reports, please see the Publications and Resources page on the IMAS website.

Illustrations by Peter Gouldthorpe

Information Paper​ - Recreational Catch Tags

Catch tags have been promoted by some rock lobster fishers as a potential solution for managing recreational catch on the East Coast.

In 2016, NRE Tas undertook a comprehensive assessment of catch tags, including a cost benefit analysis and ​how catch tags are used in other jurisdictions both in Australia and overseas.

The assessment found that catch tags would be:

  • costly to implement and administer and;
  • unlikely to constrain the recreational rock lobster catch in the Eastern Region.


Other Recreational Fishing Research​

​​Licensing Evaluation for Tasmanian Recreational Fishing 2013

​Historical Baselines for Key F​ish Stocks in Tasmania 2013​


Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


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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