A new management plan for the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery has been approved. The new plan, set out in the
Fisheries (Rock Lobster) Rules 2022, sets out the rules for all users of the rock lobster fishery.
The new Rules will come into place on 1 November 2022 for a period of ten years, replacing the current Rules which expire in October.
The rules introduce a number of changes to increase the sustainability of the rock lobster fishery, as well as improving compliance and reporting to ensure the integrity of the fisheries management system.
The most significant change is that new minimum size limits are being introduced for all fishers to better reflect regional lobster growth rates and size at maturity and boost egg production.
Final report to the Minister
This report sets out advice and recommendations to the Minister on the Rock Lobster Rules, including representations received during consultation.
Report on new Rock Lobster Fisheries Management Plan (PDF 5Mb)
This paper sets out the draft Rules consulted on from 24 March to 30 May 2022.
Information Paper - Rock Lobster Proposed Rules and Policy Changes March 2022 (PDF 4Mb)
Changes for all fishers
A size limit of 120mm for female lobsters will apply to an expanded Northern Zone. The male size limit will remain at 110mm statewide:
- Northern Zone - from the Henty River (a westwards line at 42°00’ S) northeast to Cape Pillar (an eastwards line at 43°13’18’’ S )
- Southern Zone - from Cape Pillar (an eastwards line at 43°13’18’’ S0) southwest to the Henty River (a westwards line at 42°00’ S)
Changes for recreational fishers
Recreational fishers will need to mark both outer tail fan segments of the lobster caught in the Northern Zone. Tail marking in the Southern Zone remains the same – the central tail fan segment.
Size limit zone transiting
- Transiting between size limit zones is allowed.
- Fishers must make a telephone report 60 minutes before entering anther size limit zone when they have lobster on board.
- Female rock lobster smaller than 120mm cannot be possessed in the Northern Zone.
Group sharing of catch from pots
Rock lobster can be shared between licensed pot fishers on the same boat provided:
- A fisher’s excess catch is only given to another fisher on the same boat who has a pot set, or who has retrieved a pot that was set within 250 metres of any other pot used.
- Any retained lobster must be immediately tail marked before retrieving other pots.
- After lobster are marked, each fisher must not possess more than the bag limit.
- The boat operator must ensure the total number of lobsters are within the boat limit.
Holding lobster on an unattended vessel
A fisher can leave lobster on a boat unattended (more than 100 metres away) provided:
- The lobsters are not left unattended for more than 24 hours; and
- The lobster are in a separate compartment or container (such as a bag) which is marked with their licence number or unique identifying code.
Transiting the D’Entrecasteaux Channel during ECSRZ closed season
When waters outside the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone (ECSRZ) are open, and the ECSRZ is closed, fishers can directly transit River Derwent and D’Entrecasteaux Channel waters with pots and/or rock lobster on board provided they make a telephone transit report.
Reporting lost or irretrievable pots
Recreational rock lobster fishers who are unable to retrieve a set pot within 48 hours of setting can report this via through a phone or electronic reporting service, and receive automated conditional approval.
Future recreational catch reporting
The rules have the ability to require mandatory catch reporting for recreational rock lobster fishing. This will not be required until systems are fully developed.
Discontinuing the special recreational rock lobster licence
The special rock lobster licence will no longer be issued.
Changes for commercial fishers
60 Pot Area
The current boundaries of the 60 pot area are being maintained. The 60 pot area runs from South Cape to Bluff Hill Point (pictured).
Mandatory vessel monitoring systems (VMS)
All commercial fishing vessels fishing for rock lobster must have a vessel monitoring system (VMS) operating at all times.
Changes to transiting and reporting provisions
Fishers can transit directly through other size limit zones, catch cap areas or closed areas on the way to or from port on a fishing trip, subject to the following requirements:
- Travel to or from the nominated fishing zone in the pre-fishing report is by the most practical and direct route; and
- When not at anchor, the vessel is travelling at a speed of at least 3 knots.
Commercial rock lobster fishers will be required to make a commercial transit report at least 30 minutes before leaving the fishing zone reported in the pre-fishing report, or changing part of the fishery report, in respect of the fishing trip.
Fishers can change the area they have nominated in their pre-fishing report while at sea without having to return to port, provided that:
- Changing part of fishery report is made within 48 hours of making their pre-fishing report;
- They have not commenced fishing, i.e., not set or hauled a pot; and
- There is no rock lobster on the vessel.
Changes to personal possession provisions
The following amendments now apply to personal possession provisions:
- A maximum of 5 lobsters can be retained per unloading event.
- The annual limit to be reduced from 30 to 20 (from the 2023/24 quota year).
- Lobsters must be marked with a V notch in the tail fan and tagged with a personal possession tag.
- Lobsters must be recorded in the catch, effort and quota docket book within 5 minutes of being retained for personal use and prior to being unloaded from the vessel.
If unloading to a processor, any lobsters retained for personal possession must be recorded in the catch/effort section of the docket book.
- The proposed V notching of the tail fan (pictured) will distinguish personal possession.
If the commercial fisher also holds a recreational licence, there is an aggregated possession limit of 10 rock lobster for personal possession, recreationally caught and lobster gifted from another person.
Changes to some quota monitoring arrangements
Holding tank reports
Fishers using a holding tank will be required to make a loading holding tank telephone report prior to moving lobsters from their vessel to the tank. This is addition to the usual unloading report.
Processors to separate and mark catches by size limit zone
During transport from the wharf to a fish processing facility, each fisher’s lobsters must be kept separate from other fishers’ catch in containers or bins, each clearly labelled with the name of the zone where it was taken. These requirements do not apply if the person receives and transports rock lobster from only one fisher.
Changes to direct sale recording and tagging
The weight of lobster is to be recorded to two decimal places in direct sale quota dockets and receipts where the weight is recorded in kilograms, prior to any processing of lobster. Fishers will be required to tag lobster with the coloured tag corresponding with the size limit zone of the fishery where it was caught.
Standardised pot setting restrictions at night
Time restrictions for setting pots both inside and outside catch cap areas have been standardised, so that a pot cannot be set:
- between 11 pm of one day and 4 am of the following day during the summer period; or
- between 10 pm of one day and 5 am of the following day during the winter period.
Changes to the marking and unloading of commercial fish caufs
A commercial fish cauf buoy must be marked clearly with the vessel distinguishing mark.
A commercial fish cauf can now be moved to a designated landed area for the purpose of unloading rock lobster, provided the fishing vessel's auxiliary vessel is used to move the cauf, and that the cauf is immediately returned to its prior approved location.
Ports of landing and possession
It is now an offence for a licence holder to possess lobster that have not been unloaded at a ‘port of landing’.
Other commercial management changes
Supervisors can work additional entitlements under exceptional circumstances
Supervisors of a licence who are not the licence holder and are affected by exceptional circumstances can apply to work additional entitlements.
Authorising an alternative pot design
A different pot design can be authorised as part of a research tria for an individual or a class of persons.
TACC carry-over under exceptional circumstances
The Minister can allow some or all under catch to be carried forward to the following quota year, subject to the exceptional circumstances and scientific advice on future stock impacts.
This will allow a percentage of the TACC to be carried forward if it is under caught due to a significant market disruption or biosecurity emergency that impacts the majority of fishers.
Flexibility to return lobsters to the sea under exceptional circumstances
The Secretary can determine the circumstances in which a rock lobster can be returned to the sea according to specific criteria. This allows fish to be returned to the sea due to market disruption or a biosecurity emergency.
Removal of giant crab bycatch provisions
Commercial rock lobster fishers cannot retain any giant crab. Provisions allowing bycatch of giant crab by rock lobster fishing licence holders have been removed.