Current Fishery Management


Commercial fishers operate as individual businesses in a complex and highly competitive global market place.

Industry participants fall into 4 broad categories.

-      A licence holder who actively fishes their own quota

-      A licence holder who leases out their quota to be caught by other fishers

-      A fisher who owns a vessel and leases in quota from others to catch

-      A fish processor

The Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association (TRLFA) is the peak commercial fishing body recognised under the Act for the rock lobster fishery. The Crustacean Fisheries Advisory Committee (CFAC) provides advice directly to the Minister on the management of the fishery

Limited entry:  the commercial rock lobster fishery is limited to a maximum of 315 Rock Lobster Entitlements (licences). Over the last few seasons the number of active vessels participating in the fishery has varied between 205 and 220. 

Quota units:  there are 10507 individual transferable rock lobster quota units.   A rock lobster fishing licence must have at least one rock lobster unit permanently held on it and have 15 quota units to participate in the fishery.  A person is not to benefit from or hold more than 200 quota units .

Total allowable commercial catch (TACC): the Minister sets the TACC annually, after consideration of the latest scientific assessment of the stocks. The TACC is divided by the number of rock lobster quota units (10507) to derive a kilo value per unit.  This determines the amount of rock lobster that can be taken by each licence holder depending on the number of quota units held. The total number of quota units in the fishery is fixed in the management plan. Therefore, if the TACC is altered up or down, the kilogram value of each unit in the fishery will increase or decrease.

The current TAC is set at 1,050 tonnes

Size limits: there are a state wide minimum size limits for rock lobster.  The minimum carapace length for males is 110mm and 105mm for females.

Closed seasons:  seasons are set to protect egg carrying females and fragile moulting lobsters while still providing marketing opportunity to target males.  Currently the male season runs from 15 November to 30 September and the female season runs from 15 November to 30 April.

Gear restrictions: the maximum number of pots a commercial rock lobster fisher can use is 50, but the actual number of pots a vessel can use is determined by the length tonnage schedule specified in the rock lobster management plan.  The maximum number of pots available to be used in the fishery is 10507.  The rules specify the dimensions of a rock lobster pot, including an escape gap to allow undersize lobster to get out of the pot. Commercial vessels are also allowed up to 4 rock lobster rings.

Area closures : a number of area closures exist which serve a variety of purposes.  Marine nature reserves prohibit all types of rock lobster fishing, though restricted take zones within marine nature reserves may allow rock lobster fishing.  Research areas may prohibit rock lobster fishing and are usually declared for a prescribed time to allow important research to be undertaken.  The setting of rock lobster pots is also prohibited in some areas including the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Derwent River, and Georges Bay.

Monitoring provisions: the rules specify a quota monitoring system to ensure the accurate monitoring of rock lobster landings. Monitoring provisions include: completing a daily rock lobster catch record for each days fishing, landing rock lobster at a recognised port of landing, making  a telephone unloading report prior to unloading of rock lobster, maintaining quota dockets recording the exact weight of rock lobster sold or consigned.

Non quota rock lobster: commercial fishers are allowed to retain a very small quantity of   rock lobster for personal use. (1 rock lobster per day’s fishing up to a maximum of 5, if the trip is 5 days or longer). These lobsters are typically dead or unhealthy when unloaded so have little commercial value. The personal possession rock lobster is recorded in a logbook and may not be sold.  In 2007/8 the total number of lobsters retained under this provision was 4430 which equates to about 22 lobsters per vessel.


Recreational fishers fish for a wide range of reasons.  These include to provide fish for themselves or to share with close family and friends, fishing experience, and a healthy leisure activity.  Recreational fishers may go to other parts of the State on holiday and to fish, however they generally focus their fishing effort within their local area.

Most of the recreational fishing is conducted within two peak periods of the year, from the start of the season in November through till the end of the Christmas/New Year holiday period and then over the Easter holiday period.  If poor catches are experienced, fishers tend to reduce their fishing activities for the rest of the year.  Licence numbers appear to be influenced by the likelihood of catching lobsters in local areas along with seasonal weather conditions.

The Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing (TARFISH) is the peak recreational fishing body recognised under the Act, for recreational sea fishing. The Recreational Fisheries Advisory Committee (RecFAC) provides advice directly to the Minister on the management of the recreational fishery.

Persons participating in Aboriginal fishing activities are exempt from holding a recreational fishing licence under the Act, but recreational rock lobster management measures apply.  The Act also provides for a permit system to facilitate  Aboriginal fishing activities that may otherwise be restricted under the rock lobster management plan. Permits are issued in consultation with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.

To find out more about recreationa rules visit


Summary of Management Controls


Commercial Fishery

Non commercial Fishery


Limited to 312 holders of a commercial Rock Lobster Fishing Licence

Holders of recreational, pot, dive and ring licence. Unlimited entry

Aboriginal fishing activities


Fishing Method

Rock lobster pot, rings. 

Rock lobster pot, rock lobster ring, by diving

Output Controls

Total allowable commercial catch (TACC) 10507 quota units / pots.

Legal minimum length,

prohibition on taking berried females,

Total allowable recreational catch (TARC), daily bag limit 5 in western region, 3 in eastern region, possession limit 10, boat limits.

Legal minimum length,

prohibition on taking berried females


Quota Monitoring System, Marine police inspections

Marine police inspections, biennial recreational rock lobster survey

Input Controls

Gear restrictions (total no. of pots, max no. pots per vessel), season

Gear restrictions,


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