Banded Morwong Fishery

​​​​​​​​​​What's New

The Tasmanian Government has now approved the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the 2021/22 quota year. It has​ determined that the TAC will be set at 30 kg/quota unit (totalling 35,760 kg). There are 1,192 quota units in the Banded Morwong Fishery. To view the notice go to Public Notices​.

A letter from Dr Ian Dutton, Director Marine Resources was sent to licence holders on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 via email, detailing the the setting of the 2021/22 Banded Morwong Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Access the letter via the link below. 
The other letter relates to the decision to delay the setting of the TAC to factor in the catch and effort of the 2020/21 season.

The 2021 Banded Morwong Fishery Forum was held on 26 March 2021 via an online forum (Microsoft Teams). 
Licence holders and operations were invited to attend. Outcomes of this forum were provided to the Scalefish Fishery Advisory Committee (SFAC) for inclusion in discussion when the FAC made a recommendation for the TAC.

An Instrument of Exemption was approved on 23 December 2019 that allows for a making telephone report when transporting banded morwong into the TAC Area from west of Whale Head after entering TAC waters, but before entering the part of the TAC area north of the line of latitude running through Fishers Point at 43o​34'12.6"S . 
This exemption will remain inforce for 3 years or until the exemption is revoked, whichever is first occurs. To view the instrument go to Publi​c Not​ices.

Email Notifications
We are moving more of our general communication on management of the fishery to email. Email is cheaper, quicker and can be easily accessed on mobile devices. If you are a banded morwong licence holder or licence user and would like to receive future communication about this fishery via email, we encourage you to subscribe now!

Landing Reports
All fishers are now required to make a telephone "landing" report before banded morwong are removed from the landing area, irrespective of whether you have taken those banded morwong inside or outside of the TAC area.

The 2021 Guide for the Commercial Banded Morwong Fishery (updated March 2021) is now available. Please click on the pdf document below to access this document. This guide replaces the 2020 version and has updated information on communication with DPIPWE and others, Marine Reserves, protected species interactions​, Shark Refuge Areas, and a change to fishing blocks boundaries in Great Oyster Bay.

  2021 Operational Guide for the commercial Banded Morwong Fishery   (1Mb)

DPIPWE & IMAS held an industry Banded Morwong Fishery Forum in Hobart on Friday, 26 March 2021. 

A summary of the 2021 Banded Morwong Fishery Forum is available below.

The Commercial Banded Morwong Fishery

The banded morwong fishery is a specialised component of the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery. The fishery is based on the capture of banded morwong (Cheilodactylus spectabilis) using large mesh gillnets, with almost all of the catch destined for the 'live fish' Asian restaurant markets in Sydney and Melbourne.

The fishery experienced a period of rapid expansion during the early 1990s as the live fish market opened up and the value of the fishery rose, with reported landings increasing from 7 tonnes in 1991/1992 to over 145 tonnes in 1993/94. Catches subsequently declined during the late '90s, but have stabilised at around 40-50 tonnes in recent years following management intervention.

Access to the fishery was significantly restricted in 1998, when specific banded morwong species licences were issued to eligible scalefish licence holders. Since then the majority of the fishery has moved to a quota management system that has capped the total catch and provided for individual allocations that are transferable among banded morwong licence holders.

For more information on the monthly catch of banded morwong since quota was introduced see the Banded Morwong Fishery catch updates page.

The fishery is centred mainly along the east coast of Tasmania, between St Helens in the north and the Tasman Peninsula in the south, with the largest catches traditionally coming from around Bicheno. Smaller catches have been taken along the south coast and around Flinders Island. Fishing operations are conducted over inshore reefs, with gear set primarily in the 10-20 metre depth range.

The banded morwong fishery is currently managed by a combination of limited licences and quota (for the developed part of the fishery), gear limitations, size limits, a two month annual spawning closure, and possession limits for recreational fishers. The banded morwong fishery will move from a fish numbers to a weight based quota management system for the 2016/17 quota year.

Table 1: Management changes over time.


Pre 1987

Unrestricted access to Tasmanian Fishing Boat Licences (TFBL); unlimited access to scalefish and shark using all gear types; no restrictions on the amount of graball net that could be used; and unrestricted access to all other gear types (i.e., beach seine, purse seine, dipnet, squid jig, fish traps, small mesh gillnets, mullet nets, longlines, droplines and spears).


Tasmanian Fishing Boat Licences were capped at 850.


Restricted gillnetting in Shark Nursery Areas (SNAs). Commercial access to SNAs is limited to holders of non-transferable endorsements (38 endorsees).

31 May 1994

Ministerial warning issued explaining that any catches of banded morwong and wrasse taken after that date would not be used towards catch history, should previous catches be used to determine future access to the live fishery.


Minimum size limit of 33cm fork length and maximum size limit of 43cm fork length introduced for banded morwong.


An annual closed season in March and April was introduced to coincide with the peak spawning period of banded morwong.


An interim non-transferable 'live fish' endorsement to take banded morwong and wrasse was introduced. Eligibility was based on a demonstrated history of taking one or both species (at least 50 kg between 1 January 1993 to 31 May 1994), and around 90 endorsements were issued.

November 1998

Introduction of a specific licence for the banded morwong fishery (live or dead) in State waters. There were 29 licences issued. The minimum size limit was increased to 36cm fork length and the maximum size limit increased to 46cm fork length.

November 2001

A daily bag limit of two fish was introduced for recreational fishers.

November 2004

The recreational bag limit of two fish was changed to a personal possession limit of two fish.

October 2008

Introduction of a quota management system for east coast waters from Low Head to Whale Head (excluding the Furneaux Group). A total of 1169 banded morwong quota units were issued.

July 2009

An additional 24 banded morwong quota units were issued following a review of a quota allocation, bringing the total number of units to 1193.

November 2009

Introduction of a 6 hour soak time for commercial gillnets

March 2011

Introduction of the Commercial Banded Morwong Quota Docket for all banded morwong fishers.
​New gillnet free areas for the protection of seabirds such as the little penguins (applies to both commercial and recreational gillnets).

New quota management arrangements for the banded morwong fishery as it moves from a numbers to a weight based quota management system for the 2016/17 quota year.
​May 2017
​New Commercial Banded Morwong Quota Docket and new Commercial Catch, Effort and Disposal Logbook for all banded morwong fishers.
​December 2019
​Instrument of Exemption was signed on 23 December 2019 to allow fishers operating in the non-TAC area west of Whale Head to enter the TAC area and make their transit telephone report before entering the part of the TAC area north of Fishers Point. Refer to Instrument of Exemption​ for full details.

Area of the Banded Morwong Fishery

Banded morwong map with assessment regions - smallWith the introduction of the quota management system in October 2008, the fishery was split into two areas¯the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) area and the non-TAC area.

For assessment purposes the state is divided into five regions, with assessment regions 1, 2 and 3 being in the TAC area and regions 4 and 5 being in the non-TAC area. The TAC area of the fishery is on the east coast and the boundary is from Low Head in the north to Whale Head in the south. The remainder of Tasmanian State waters is considered to be undeveloped and the holder of a fishing licence (banded morwong) does not require quota to fish in this area. For more information and a larger image map on the areas of the fishery please click on the map (to the right).

From May 2011 all commercial fishers catching banded morwong must record their landing and catch transfer details on the Commercial Banded Morwong Quota Docket, including fish caught outside the TAC (quota managed) area. The quota docket will provide a greater level of integrity in the quota system, and will enable the ability for 'real time' quota/catch monitoring, benefiting both licence holders and management.

​For more information on the monthly catch of banded morwong since quota was introduced see the Banded Morwong Fishery catch updates page.​

Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe


Wild Fisheries Management Branch
Level 3, 134 Macquarie Street
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3000, 1300 368 550

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