Approximately 175 000 lobsters are set to be translocated to the East Coast this season, enough to offset the entire recreational and commercial catch taken from the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone in 2022/23.
A Government funded translocation program has been improving rock lobster fishing on the East Coast since 2015. Approximately 300 000 lobsters have been translocated to the East Coast over the history of the program. A separate, commercially funded translocation program will also be translocating lobsters to the East Coast this season.
If you fish the East Coast, you’ve benefitted from the translocation program, as release sites are within short travel distance of most boat ramps.
Translocation, along with other management actions, have helped put rock lobster on the path to recovery, and fishers are starting to notice the impact.
The most recent IMAS report on the Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Fisheries found that eighty-five percent of fishers surveyed considered that the quality of the rock lobster fishery was the same or better than previous years – an increase of 10% from the previous year.
Recreational catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone increased to just under 72 tonne last season, the highest it has been since the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Strategy was implemented. Catch rates for pot fishers are the highest they’ve been in 16 years.
The increase in recreational catch is in line with expectations as fishing experience improves with stock recovery, and translocation is playing a major role in offsetting the catch increase.
Funds have been committed for East Coast translocations this year and next year to support better rock lobster fishing opportunities. Further long-term planning for the translocation program will be considered as part of the Rock Lobster Harvest Strategy which will be developed soon.
Locations for translocation are chosen based on where it will most benefit fishers. Popular fishing areas or areas where catch rates are down would be prime targets for translocation since improved productivity in these areas would have the biggest benefits for recreational fishers.
Recreational catch reporting, which is required for all recreational rock lobster licence holders from the 2 December 2023, could play an important role in identifying candidate sites for rock lobster translocation in future seasons.