Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Research

Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2017-18 Catch Estimates

Title: Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries 2017-18 Fishing Season
Lead Agency: 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 potential 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 the fishing activity details. The 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 2017-18

Almost 17,200 fishers held the following rock lobster licences in 2017/18:
  • 14,600 rock lobster pot;
  • 8,050 rock lobster dive; and
  • 4,500 rock lobster ring.
The annual IMAS survey of rock lobster recreational licensees for the period 1 November 2017 to 30 April 2018 reported the statewide catch was 73 tonnes, 15 tonnes less than the 88 tonne the previous year, and below the Total Allowable Recreational Catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes.

The effect of biotoxin closures had an impact on licence numbers (down almost 850 licences from 2016/17), as well as constraining the recreational catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone to 40 tonnes. This is just under the notional amount of 41 tonnes for the recreational fishery.

Biotoxin closures caused the following opening delays: 13 weeks for Wineglass Bay to Marion Bay (Maria Island zone); 9 weeks for Chain of Lagoons to Wineglass Bay (Central East zone); 4 weeks for Marion Bay to Tasman Island (Lower East Coast zone); and 1 week for the Storm Bay/Bruny zone.

Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries - 2016-17 Catch Estimates

Title: Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Fisheries 2016-17 Fishing Season
Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

Rock Lobster - Key Findings

There were 18,000 individuals who held a Rock Lobster licence - 15,200 pot, 8,000 dive and 4,400 ring.

For the period 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 IMAS reported:

  • An estimated total recreational catch of 87,650 lobster equating to 87.9 tonnes.
  • 68% of the total catch taken by pot; 29% by dive, and 3% ring. 
  • The average catch rate was 1.07 lobster per day fished - 0.87 for pots, 1.90 for dive, and 1.88 for rings.
  • 43% of active fishers retained 1-5 lobsters for the period; 6% took more than 20.
  • The total recreational catch was 52% of the total allowable recreational catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes.

Just over 50 tonnes, almost 60% of the total recreational catch was taken from the East Coast (Eddystone Point to Southport).  This exceeds the recreational notional catch share of 42 tonnes, as outlined in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Strategy by 8.2 tonnes.  This compared with an “under-catch" of 6.3 tonnes in 2015-16 and an “over-catch" of 13.6 tonnes in 2014-15.  The lower catch in 2015-16 was influenced by extensive biotoxin closures.

Respondents were asked a range of questions relevant to the management and state of the Rock Lobster fishery, key findings included:

  • most active fishers suggested that the quality of the fishery had improved or was at least similar to the 2015-16 season; 
  • The vast majority of fishers indicated that, when fishing for lobster, they also do other types of fishing, most commonly inshore line fishing
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents indicated they would pursue other types of fishing (other than rock lobster) if there was an extended closure period, while 18% indicated they would delay doing any fishing until the rock lobster season opened.

Abalone – Key Findings

There were 11,170 recreational abalone licence holders. Recreational fishers harvested an estimated 47,522 abalone, equating to an estimated at 21.6 tonnes, equivalent to 1% of the combined recreational and commercial catch.

Blacklip abalone accounted for 70% and greenlip abalone 30% of the total numbers.  60% of abalone were taken from the East Coast, 25 % from the North and 10% from the West Coast.

About one in five dives resulted in the daily bag limit of 10 abalone being taken; the overall average daily harvest rate was 4.9 abalone. 

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

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.

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

The assessment found that the catch tags would be:

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


Understanding Interactions and Competition over Rock Lobster Resource Access, Tasman Peninsula

East Coast Rock Lobster Fishery Report cover Title: Understanding Interactions and Competition over Rock Lobster Resource Access off the East Coast of Tasmania, June 2012
Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

The objectives of the research were to:
  1. Map and analyse the ground holding and gear setting behaviour of rock lobster fishers at selected sites along the Tasman Peninsula coastline.
  2. Describe rock lobster fisher decision making inputs regarding pot placement during peak periods and throughout the season.
  3. Identify perceptions of resource sharing and fisher preferences for management approaches to resource sharing between the recreational and commercial sectors.

Recreational Rock Lobster Survey Methodology Peer Review

Title: Review of the Telephone Diary Survey of the Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster Fishery
Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc. (TARFish)

  • Identify world's best practice methodology for recreational rock lobster catch estimation with resultant costs, benefits, capabilities, resources and limitations.
  • Identify areas where the current methodology can be improved given the available finite resources.
  • Understand if there are more cost effective methods available that provide the required confidence levels (statistical accuracy).
  • Evaluation of the current survey may assist TAFI in improving the survey in terms of scientific robustness.
  • All fishery stakeholders should have confidence in the survey outcomes and understand its capabilities, limitations and restrictions.
  • Identify the levels of estimated costs and methodologies associated with increasing the confidence levels (statistical accuracy) to a maximum of +/-5% of the estimated annual catch.
  • Understand the cost implications of having the same statistical accuracy for each of the 8 rock lobster areas.
  • Identify the optimum survey frequency given management plan and fishery assessment requirements. Should the survey be undertaken every 2 years or should it be aligned with Rule Reviews and fishery assessment needs.
  • Identify a recommended methodology that optimises resources and minimises diminishing returns.


Recreational Fisheries Manager
Rod Pearn
Wild Fisheries Management Branch
1 Franklin Wharf
Phone: 03 6165 3034

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