Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Research

Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2019-20 Catch Estimates

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) reports annually on the recreational rock lobster and abalone fishing seasons with information derived from surveying a proportion of licence holders.  The report contains estimates of catch and days fished by fishing methods and area, and social information including attitudes about perceived stock status, fishing quality and management.  

The survey method used is the phone/diary method, where participants are initially contacted by phone then issued a diary to personally record their fishing activities.  Participants are contacted throughout the season by a trained interviewer who records their fishing details. This methodology has been confirmed by an international, independent expert as the most cost effective way of accurately estimating rock lobster catch.

Rock Lobster Summary - Season 2019-20

More than 17,200 (down from 18,000 in 2018-19) people held the following rock lobster licences in 2019-20:
  • 14,400 pot
  • 8,000 dive; and
  • 4,000 ring.
The IMAS survey for the period 1 November 2019 to 30 April 2020 reported:
  • An estimated total catch of 53,655 rock lobster equating to 54.3 tonnes.
  • 66% of the total catch was taken by potting, 31% by diving and 3% by rings.
  • The average catch rate was 0.76 lobsters per day with daily harvest rates for diving (1.27 lobster) more than double that for pots (0.62 lobster).
  • 72% of the catch (by weight) was taken from the East Coast, 13% North Coast and 14% from the West Coast.
The catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone was estimated at 33.6 tonnes, under the 35 tonne notional amount for the recreational fishery in this area.

The 2019-20 season catch was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic event including population movement restrictions.

Overall the recreational catch represented about 32% of the total allowable recreational catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes and was equivalent to about 4% of the 2019-20 total allowable catch (TAC) of 1221 tonnes which includes the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) of 1051 tonnes.

Abalone Summary - Season 2019-20

There were 10,600 recreational abalone licence holders. The survey reported 25,500 abalone (12.6 tonnes) were taken between 1 November 2019 to 30 April 2020.  75% of the catch (13 tonnes) was taken from the East Coast, 13% from the North Coast and 10% from the West Coast. 

Compliance Activities

21% of rock lobster and abalone survey participants indicated they have been checked by Marine Police during the 2019-20 season. On-water inspections were reported by 75% of those checked and around were reported by 33% of fishers (some respondents were subject to on-water and off-water checks).

For Stock Assessment Reports for the Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone fisheries, please see the Publications & Resources page on the IMAS website.

Recreational Rock Lobster Catch Research Trial – March/April 2021

DPIPWE has asked the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies to evaluate ways to more effectively estimate the total recreational catch and to monitor an individual season limit (ISL). The main driver of the research is to identify new management tools to better manage the East Coast recreational rock lobster fishery.

IMAS will contact a sample of recreational rock lobster fishers seeking their opinions on new ways to monitor the recreational rock lobster catch.  Fishers will be selected to trial a phone app and catch tags to report their catch. Their feedback and a feasibility study will help decide whether developing these methods further is warranted.

The study is also investigating whether these methods would be effective to monitor an individual season limit (ISL), where each fisher would have a maximum allocation per season.  An ISL is often raised by fishers as a fairer way to share the catch amongst recreational fishers, and offers flexibility around the timing when fishers can take their lobsters.  

It is important to note that the IMAS project is a research trial only.  The project outcomes will be considered by DPIPWE and the Recreational Fisheries Advisory Committee and would further involve recreational fishers if an ISL warrants more development. The project is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.  

IMAS will invite current licensed rock lobster fishers to participate in the trial by email.  Numbers are limited due to the trial nature of systems used.

Information Paper - Catch Tags for the Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster Fishery

Catch tags have been promoted by some rock lobster fishery stakeholders as a potential solution for managing the recreational take of rock lobster on the state’s east coast.

In 2016, DPIPWE officers undertook a comprehensive assessment of catch tags, including a cost benefit analysis of their application. The assessment included examining how catch tags are used in other jurisdictions both in Australia and overseas.

The assessment found that catch tags would be:

  • costly to implement and administer and;
  • unlikely to constrain the recreational rock lobster catch in the Eastern Region.




Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Recreational Fisheries Section
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647

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