Biotoxin Fishery Events

​Public Health Alerts

For standing and current public health alerts relating to the eating of wild shellfish see the Department of Public Health website.

 
See DHHS for information about Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 4 July 2019

The area south of a line running due east from Boltons Beach at 42° 24’ 10” S to Marion Bay (boundary line at 42° 49’ 00” S)  re-opened for rock lobster fishing from 4pm on 3 July.

The rock lobsters collected by the IMAS dive team earlier in the week as a part of the research project described below have been tested and are clear of paralytic shellfish toxins (PST).

 

Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 28 June 2019

Closure of part of the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone for IMAS Research

At 00:01am on Monday 1 July part of the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone will be closed to commercial fishing to allow IMAS to collect rock lobster samples for biotoxin testing.

The area to close is south of a line running due east from Boltons Beach at 42° 24’ 10” S to Marion Bay (boundary line at 42° 49’ 00” S).

Pots must be pulled from this area by midnight on Sunday, 30 June.

Results are expected by midday Thursday 4, July.  Subject to the results, the area will be reopened immediately.  Fishers will be notified by email and SMS.  The DPIPWE website will also be updated.

The sampling is part of an IMAS Biotoxin research project.

 
Bolton Beach new biotoxin line

Indicative map illustrating the new boundary line near Boltons Beach/Little Swanport


Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 13 June 2019

The area south of a line running due east from Boltons Beach at 42° 24’ 10” S to Marion Bay (boundary line at 42° 49’ 00” S)  will re-open for rock lobster fishing from 3pm on 13 June.

The rock lobsters collected by the IMAS dive team earlier in the week as a part of the research project described below have been tested and are clear of paralytic shellfish toxins (PST).


 


Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 7 June 2019

Closure of part of the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone for IMAS Research

At 00:01am on Tuesday 11 June, part of the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone will be closed to commercial fishing to allow IMAS to collect rock lobster samples for biotoxin testing.

The area to close is south of a line running due east from Boltons Beach at 42° 24’ 10” S to Marion Bay (boundary line at 42° 49’ 00” S).

Pots must be pulled from this area by midnight on Monday, 10 June.

Results are expected by midday Thursday 13 June.  Subject to the results, the area will be reopened immediately.  Fishers will be notified by email and SMS.  The DPIPWE website will also be updated.

The sampling is part of an IMAS Biotoxin research project.

 
Bolton Beach new biotoxin line

Indicative map illustrating the new boundary line near Boltons Beach/Little Swanport at the north of the zone

Background Information

Under the current rock lobster biotoxin monitoring plan, paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) levels in mussels are used as an early warning alarm to decide when to close a zone to sample rock lobster.  Previous tank studies suggest there could be a 14 day lag period between high PST levels in mussels and high PST levels in lobsters.  A more recent study indicates that if the lobster is eating prey items with very high PST levels, the resulting lobster PST levels could reach 0.8mg/kg within a much shorter timeframe.

To answer this is a critical management question, the IMAS project team is proposing to track PST uptake in lobsters before, during and after a bloom.

The research project will collect 5 lobsters from the southern half of the Maria Island Zone (Maria Island revised zone)  once a month in June, July, and August. If a harmful algal bloom (HAB) event occurs, the sampling may increase to fortnightly and continue during the closed season, reverting back to monthly when the bloom declines.  

The zone will be closed to commercial lobster fishing for sampling and will reopen as soon as the results are available.  It is anticipated that the closure will be 3 – 4 days for each sampling round. The lobster samples will be analysed by the AST Labs in Hobart. If the preliminary screen results are below 0.4 mg/kg, the zone will be reopened immediately, otherwise the confirmatory results will be used to determine the status of the zone in line with the Biotoxin decision protocols.  

The rock lobster biotoxin monitoring program and response plan will continue to operate as normal and independently of the project sampling.

If you require any further information on the closure please email Hilary Revill at hilary.revill@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

For further information on the research project FRDC 2017-086 Improved risk management of paralytic shellfish toxins in Southern Rock Lobster go to the IMAS website.

 
Proposed trial division Maria Island Biotoxin Zone

Indicative map illustrating the proposed trial division of the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone


Archives - Rock Lobster Fishery Updates Oct - Dec 2018

Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 20 December

Maria Island Zone to Open

Results from rock lobster samples collected from this Zone on 12 December show that paralytic shellfish toxins are below the established limit of 0.8 mg/kg.
 
The Maria Island Biotoxin Zone will open on Friday, 21 December.

Recreational and commercial fishers can set pots from 5 pm today, Thursday 20 December.

The zone is open to fishing (pulling pots, rings or diving) from 00:01, Friday 21 December.


 

Rock lobster biotoxin map 20 December

Map correct as at 20 December 2018.  Green zone depicts open to recreational rock lobster fishing.


 


Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 14 December

MARIA ISLAND ZONE TO REMAIN CLOSED

Results from rock lobster samples collected from this Zone on 6 December show that biotoxins remain at unacceptably elevated levels.  The highest individual lobster paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) result from the sampling was 0.96 mg/kg which is above the established limit of 0.8 mg/kg.
 
The Maria Island Zone will remain closed until biotoxin levels are below the established levels.

Additional sampling (as a contingency) was  undertaken on Wednesday 12 December. The Sydney Laboratory has been given the go ahead to analyse these samples. Results are anticipated late on Thursday 20 December so that a decision on the open/closed status for this zone can be made prior to the weekend of 22/23 December.
 
ALL OTHER ZONES ARE OPEN

Rock lobster biotoxin map 15 December

Map correct as at 15 December 2018.  Red zone depicts closed due to elevated biotoxin results.  Green zone depicts open to rock lobster fishing.


Update on Sampling Maria Island Zone - 12 December

The rock lobster samples taken from the Maria Island Zone have been prepared for testing by IMAS and are now at the laboratory in Sydney.  We hope to have the results by 5pm, Friday 14 December and make an announcement shortly after on the Fisheries Tasmania Facebook, email news service and website.

If the results show that none of the lobster samples exceed the PST limit of 0.8 mg/kg, we aim to open the Maria Island Zone for the setting of lobster pots on Friday evening (14 December) and the taking of lobster from 12.01am on Saturday, 15 December.
 
If the results are not received, or they show a sample exceeding the PST limit of 0.8 mg/kg, the Maria Island Zone will remain closed.

As a contingency, should the results not allow us to open the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone this weekend, samples collected today, Wednesday 12 December and sent to the laboratory will be tested next week with the aim of having results available on Thursday, 20 December.  A similar opening policy will be followed after receiving those results – to allow the setting of pots on the evening after receiving the results.

 


 

Rock Lobster Fishery Update - 29 November 2018

MARIA ISLAND ZONE TO REMAIN CLOSED AT SEASON OPENING

The Maria Island Zone will remain closed when the east coast rock lobster season opening occurs on 8 December for the recreational fishery and 11 December 2018 for the commercial fishery.

Results from rock lobster samples collected from this Zone on 20 November show that biotoxins remain at unacceptably elevated levels.  The highest individual lobster PST result from the sampling was 1.8 mg/kg which is above the established limit of 0.8 mg/kg. 

Although biotoxin levels detected in sentinel mussel samples along the east coast have been at negligible levels for some time, PST levels in lobster in the Maria Island Zone have not declined to within the established limits from the harmful algal bloom (HAB) in that Zone during the closed season.

The Maria Island Zone will remain closed until biotoxin levels are below the established levels.

Additional sampling will be undertaken and a decision on the open/closed status for this zone will be made just prior to the weekends of 15/16 December and if necessary 22/23 December.  

ALL OTHER ZONES WILL OPEN AS PLANNED

Rock lobster biotoxin map 8 December

Map correct as at 8 December 2018.  Red zone depicts closed due to elevated biotoxin results.  Green zone depicts open to rock lobster fishing.

More information

See Biotoxin Zone and Boundary Maps


Background to Maria Island Zone Results & Pre-Christmas Sampling Regime - 3 December

Late August toxic algal bloom event

In the week commencing 20 August 2018, 10 days before the commercial rock lobster fishery on the east coast was due to close, a shellfish farm in Mercury Passage recorded its first high reading of paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) in a mussel sample recording 1.4mg/kg, significantly above the established limit for PST of 0.8mg/kg.  The shellfish farm was closed for the next eight weeks whilst weekly levels of PST in shellfish samples ranged from 0.82 to 17mg/kg (over 21 times the limit for PST).  The shellfish farm was cleared to recommence harvesting once the PST levels had fallen below the limit in the week commencing 29 October.
 

Pre-season opening testing regime

From the results of the PST testing from the Mercury Passage shellfish farm and its prolonged closure, it was clear a significant toxic algal bloom had occurred in the Maria Island Zone.  Given the extended period of the bloom, it was prudent to test rock lobster prior to the opening of the recreational fishery in the area on 8 December and the commercial fishery on 11 December.  Five lobsters were collected from the vicinity of Cape Bougainville at the mouth of the Mercury passage by an IMAS dive team on 20 November.  The results for the lobster tested were 0.096, 0.70, 0.43,0.47 and 1.8mg/k, with one lobster exceeding the limit of 0.8mg/kg for PST.

Why wasn’t the commercial lobster fishery closed in late August?

The commercial rock lobster fishery was not closed during the week commencing 20 August as it is known from recent research that rock lobster take up the PST by feeding on prey items such as mussels and other filter feeding species that rapidly take up the toxin.  This research has shown that it can take up to three weeks from the time the PST is recorded in high levels in prey species like mussels to the time rock lobster record high levels of PST.  Given that the first high recording in the Mercury Passage shellfish samples was received 10 days before the commercial fishery was due to close, there was no need to close earlier as the lobsters would not have exceeded the limit of 0.8mg/kg.

Why has the season opening has been delayed?

Research also demonstrates that rock lobster are slow to depurate (purge) the biotoxins from their system, and the results from rock lobster testing on 20 November indicate that there are residual levels of toxins in the rock lobster population.

 

What is the future testing and sampling plan?

The Department is organising samples for testing on the week commencing 3 December and a backup sampling later in the following week with the aim of having the information to make decisions on the open/closed status for this zone will be made just prior to the weekends of 15-16 December and if necessary 22-23 December.


Rock Lobster Fishery Update – 26 November

Lobsters have been sampled from the Maria Island Biotoxin Zone and are now at the laboratory being analysed for paralytic shellfish toxins (PST).  Results are expected by Friday 30 November 2018.

In the Maria Island Zone, PST levels in sentinel species (mussels) were above 0.8 mg/kg (maximum prescribed level for shellfish) for several months, but in recent weeks have dropped to low levels. As a precaution, lobster samples are being tested as lobsters are much slower to purge the toxins than mussels.

No other biotoxin zones are being tested and it is expected all other zones will open in accordance with the scheduled season openings.  The ECRZ is scheduled to open on 8th December 2018. The Department aims to notify fishers about the status of the Maria Island Zone as soon as possible after results are received.



Rock Lobster Fishery Update – 29 October

Sentinel (indicator) species monitoring for paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) has been conducted throughout the closed season since June 2018.


Waters outside the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone

Monitoring of sentinel species in all waters outside the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone (ECSRZ) which open on 3 November indicate negligible levels of PSTs.


East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone

As of 29 October, the only area with elevated levels of PSTs is in the Maria Island Zone.  Testing rock lobsters in this zone may be needed closer to the opening date for this zone on 8 December.

Any further updates will be posted on this webpage.


Transiting Closed Areas

Transiting Biotoxin Regions - Eastern Region

You can transit though closed rock lobster biotoxin zones to fish in open waters eg. As of 8 December 2018, after the season opens on  in the ECSRZ, you may transit with rock lobster gear and lobsters through the Maria Island Zone, which is closed due to elevated biotoxin levels. You may also have a rock lobster pot in a closed Biotoxin Zone from 6 am on the day before the season open date.

In a closed biotoxin zone you cannot:
  • take rock lobster;
  • dive for lobster, be in the water and possess rock lobster; or
  • set pots or rings.
Provided the Eastern Region season (or parts thereof) is open, fishers can transit back from the Western Region to the Eastern Region open areas with rock lobster providing they comply with Eastern Region bag limits before proceeding past Whale Head or Point Sorell.

Please think about your safety before fishing in unfamiliar waters.

See also Closed season provisions

Scallops, Abalone and Other Shellfish

Abalone, scallop roes and other wild shellfish including oysters, mussels, clams, pipis and wedge shells can also be affected when toxic algal blooms are present.  It is important that fishers read the Health Department standing and current alerts relating to the collecting and eating of wild shellfish.


How to Stay Informed

Web: This webpage - Biotoxin Fishery Events
Email alerts: Recreational Fishing News e-newsletter
Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/FisheriesTasmania
Phone:  Recreational - 6165 3233 or 1300 720 647
              Commercial - 6165 3045

Email:   fishing.enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
Public health alerts:  www.publichealthalerts.tas.gov.au

Biotoxin Decision Making Protocols

DPIPWE Wild Fisheries has developed the Rock Lobster Biotoxin Plan and Decision Protocol in consultation with the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fisherman's Association, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders. It is used to determine management responses in relation to a Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (PST) event. The policy for the Recreational Rock Lobster Fishery for Biotoxin Events is also below.

  Rock Lobster Biotoxin Monitoring Program and Decision Protocols 2018   (718Kb)


  Recreational Rock Lobster Fishery Biotoxin Events Policy   (105Kb)

Recreational Licence Refunds

Please note that recreational licence refunds will not be granted if you are unable to fish in some waters due to biotoxin closures.  Licences grant access to all Tasmanian waters and biotoxin closures apply only to specific zones within those waters.  Licence holders can still fish outside any closed areas.

Contact

Wild Fisheries Management Branch
1 Franklin Wharf
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3000, 1300 368 550
Email: fishing.enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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