Rock Lobster Fishing

Southern Rock Lobster Illustration by Peter GouldthorpeThe following rules apply to both southern rock lobster and eastern (green) rock lobster which are also referred to in Tasmania as crayfish.

Licences

A licence is needed to take rock lobster and you must be 10 years of age or older to obtain a rock lobster licence. There are three types of licences depending on the gear that you want to use. The licences are for diving, using one pot or using up to four rings. The licence holder must personally set and retrieve any rock lobster fishing gear and another person may assist them if needed e.g. to lift the pot. See the licensing page for more information on licences.

Special Rock Lobster Licence

The holder of a recreational rock lobster licence can buy a special rock lobster licence which allows you to possess 15 rock lobster in the Western Region and on mainland Tasmania for a 14 day period nominated by the fisher. During this 14 day period, you are not allowed to fish for rock lobster in the Eastern Region. Daily bag limits and boat limits still apply.

Aboriginal Fishing

Aboriginal persons engaged in aboriginal fishing are exempt from holding a fishing licence but must comply with all other rules. Where gear must be marked with a licence number, Aboriginal fishers should use a unique identifying code. More information on Aboriginal fishing.

Seasons

See the Recreational Fishing Seasons page for current open and closed season dates.

Western Region

Females - open to fishing from the first Saturday in November to 30 April of the following year.

Males - open to fishing from the first Saturday in November to 31 August of the following year.

Eastern Region

From the third Saturday in November to 30 April of the following year.

During the closed season for the Eastern Region, recreational fishers cannot possess rock lobster or pots or rings on state waters in the Eastern Region.

You may only possess a rock lobster pot on State fishing 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.

How to tell the difference between male and female rock lobster.

Size Limits

There are different minimum size limits for male and female rock lobster:
  • Male 110 mm
  • Female 105 mm
Get your rock lobster measuring gauge at any Service Tasmania outlet.  How to measure rock lobster.

When diving for rock lobster:
  • try to size up the rock lobster before taking it
  • measure your catch as soon as possible
  • if diving from the shore, measure before you leave the water
  • if diving from a boat, measure before you leave the dive site.
Rock lobster that are not kept should be released carefully in the area from which they were taken and not over a sandy bottom.

Bag and Possession Limits

Different regional and statewide daily bag, possession limits, boat limits and boat gear limits apply depending on whether you are licensed or not and they apply everywhere, including your home.

If you have a recreational rock lobster pot, ring or dive licence, you can have:
  • a daily bag limit of 2 rock lobster in the Eastern Region, 5 rock lobster in the Western Region and 2 rock lobster in northern Bass Strait;
  • a possession limit of 4 rock lobster in the Eastern Region, 10 rock lobster in the Western Region and mainland Tasmania and 4 rock lobster in northern Bass Strait;
  • Special Rock Lobster licence holders can have a possession limit of 15 rock lobster (in the Western Region and on mainland Tasmania only) for the 14 day period of the licence; and
  • a non-licensed possession limit of 0 rock lobster on state fishing waters and 2 rock lobster on land.
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.

If you are on State waters with more than the daily bag limit, you must prove you have fished for more than one day eg. an extended or overnight trip. You must abide by the bag limit, the possession limit and the boat limit. On a boat with more than 5 people fishing, some fishers may need to take fewer fish than their bag or possession limit to remain within the boat limit.

If you don't have a rock lobster licence, you can't possess rock lobster while on State fishing waters and you can't possess more than 2 rock lobster unless you have a receipt or the lobster has a commercial tag.

A child under 10 cannot possess rock lobster and any rock lobster held by that child are deemed to be in the possession of the supervising adult. A person with a special rock lobster licence can possess 15 lobsters during the 14 day licence period nominated by the fisher.
Illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

Boat Limits

Eastern Region: there is a boat limit of 10 rock lobster.

Western Region: there is a boat limit of 25 rock lobster.

The person in charge of the boat is responsible for adhering to boat limits.

Boat Gear Limits

A boat limit of 5 rock lobster pots and 20 rock lobster rings applies.

Gear Restrictions

See our rock lobster gear page.

Regions and Area Restrictions

See our Regions and Area Restrictions page.


Marking Your Catch

Rock lobster that are kept must be marked as 'recreationally-caught' lobster as follows:
  • The central flap of the tail fan should be cut clear away with a cut just behind the fleshy portion. You may find it easier to use scissors rather than a knife. Alternatively, you can punch a clear 10 mm hole in the central tail flap.
  • If you are fishing from a boat, the tail fan should be marked within 5 minutes of the lobster being brought to the boat and before landing to shore.
  • If you are fishing from the shore, lobster should be marked within 5 minutes of landing and within 50 metres of the place where you are fishing.
How to mark your catch.

Eating Rock Lobster at Sea

You can cut up and eat one rock lobster for each licence holder on a boat. This rock lobster is included in your daily bag limit.

Tagged and Specially Marked Rock Lobster

  • You cannot possess specially-marked research rock lobsters, which have either two separate holes of at least 5 mm in diameter in the tail fan, two coloured lines on the underside of the tail or a blue T-bar tag with the words TAFI Research - Illegal to Take.
  • You can keep other tagged rock lobster.

O​ther Rock Lobster Rules

A person must not:
  • take or possess rock lobster that are in berry (carrying eggs). These must be returned to the water gently and immediately, in the area from which they were taken. Research shows that damage reduces growth rates. Damage also reduces egg production which may affect future catches.
  • Use rock lobster for bait.
  • Sell, barter, raffle or buy recreationally caught rock lobster.
  • Have possession of a rock lobster tail that is less than 50 mm across the widest point of the anterior end of the tail.
  • Recreationally take or possess rock lobster on a vessel being used on a commercial fishing trip.
  • Have a recreational pot or recreational ring on a vessel being used on a commercial fishing trip.
  • Set a rock lobster pot for more than 48 hours. Phone the Marine Police on 0427 655 557 for advice.
Rings and pots may be used from a boat being used by divers, however personal bag and possession limits apply to the total rock lobster taken by any method that day.

Lobster illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

Contact

Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Recreational Fisheries Section
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647
Email: fishing.enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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