Southern Rock Lobster

Other names: crayfish, cray, spinylobster

Scientific name: Jasus edwardsii

Licence: Rock lobster pot, ring or dive licence required.  You must be 10 years or older to hold a rock lobster licence.  

Season:
See Recreational Fishing Seasons. You may only possess a rock lobster pot on state waters from 6am the day before the season opens and only set a pot after 1pm on the same day. Pots may then be pulled after midnight.

Minimum size: Male 110 mm, Female 105 mm

Bag limit:
Eastern Region 2, Western Region 5, northern Bass Strait 2 (above 39°33’).  These limits apply to all rock lobster species combined.

Possession limit:
Eastern Region 4, Western Region 10, northern Bass Strait 4 (above 39°33’).  Special rock lobster licence holders (Western Region only) -15 rock lobster for a 14 day period.  A possession limit of 10 applies on mainland Tasmania, islands in the Western Region and on Flinders, Cape Barren and Bruny Islands including homes, shacks and vehicles.  Eastern Region possession limits apply within 100 metres of unloading any rock lobster, except where the fisher’s shack or home is within the 100 metres.  Non-licensed possession limit - 2 rock lobster. Children under 10 cannot possess rock lobster.  These limits apply to all rock lobster species combined.

Boat limit: Eastern Region 10, Western Region 25, Northern Bass Strait as per region.

Boat gear limit:
5 rock lobster pots and 20 rock lobster rings.  

Rules: See Rock Lobster Rules for information about measuring, marking and sexing rock lobster and marking your gear.  The rules apply to both southern and eastern (green) rock lobster.

Area restrictions:
Catch limits apply in Rock Lobster Regions (Eastern, Western and Northern Bass Strait).

Identifying features:  These large, spiny crustaceans are orange-red in colour with a rough textured shell, being darker red in shallower waters to almost white in very deep waters.  Their features include a tough carapace, long antennae, eyes on moving stalks, six small limbs around the mouth, five pairs of walking legs and a segmented tail ending in a fan with swimmerets underneath.

Grows to:
220 mm in carapace length and 5 kg.

Habitat:  Found around Tasmania near rocky reefs and in crevices from close inshore out to 200 metres depth.  After hatching, the young larvae undergo several complicated life stages for between 9-24 months.

Fishing information: Rock lobster are highly sought after by recreational fishers who use pots and rings and also dive to catch this species.  Popular baits used include fish heads and frames and occasionally raw meats.  They are opportunistic carnivores consuming species such as mussels, abalone, sea urchins, crabs and worms.  Predators of rock lobster include octopus, sharks and fish species such as wrasse, ling and cod.

Responsible fishing tips:
Rock lobsters are fragile so handle carefully, particularly when they have eggs attached or have recently moulted.  Sort your catch quickly as they can die if left exposed to warm, dry air.  Release them gently over the reef where they were caught. If you catch a tagged lobster, please record the tag details and report to the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Research.

Handling: Be careful when handling rock lobsters as they have sharp spines around the base of their antennae.

Public Health advice:
Follow any public health alerts relating to eating wild shellfish - refer to the Department of Health and Human Services or phone their hotline on 1800 671 738.

Cooking:
Rock lobster has firm, white meat with a rich medium flavour.  It has a low oil content and is suitable to simmer, steam, grill or barbeque.

Illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

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