Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Research

​Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2020-21 Catch Estimates

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) reports annually on the recreational rock lobster and abalone fishing seasons by surveying a proportion of licence holders.  Their report contains estimates of catch, 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 contacted by phone then issued a diary to record their fishing activities.  They are contacted throughout the season by an interviewer who records their fishing details. This methodology has been confirmed by an independent expert as the most cost effective way of accurately estimating catch.

Rock Lobster Summary - Season 2020-21

Almost 18,200 licenced rock lobster fishers (1500 more than in 2019-20) took an estimated total catch of 72,751 rock lobster during the period 1st November 2020 to 30th April 2021.
  • There were 15,200 pot, 9,000 dive; and 4,300 ring licences.
  • The average catch rate was 0.98 lobsters per day with daily harvest rates for diving (1.49 lobster) more than double that for pots (0.82 lobster).
  • 68% of the total catch (by weight) was taken by potting, 30% by diving and less than 3% by rings.
  • 70% of the catch (by weight) was taken from the East Coast, 22% North Coast and 8% from the West Coast.
The catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone was estimated at 51.1 tonnes.

The recreational catch for 2020-21 is estimated at 81.6 tonnes, which is 48% of the total allowable recreational catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes. This is equivalent to about 6.7% of the 2020-21 total allowable catch (TAC) of 1221 tonnes, which includes the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) of 1051 tonnes.

Abalone Summary - Season 2020-21

11,750 recreational abalone licence holders harvested an estimated 36,200 abalone (17.2 tonnes) between 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021.  By numbers, 64% of the catch was taken from the East Coast, 29% from the North Coast and 7% from the West Coast.

The Eastern region daily bag limit of 5 abalone was achieved on about 40% of all dives targeting abalone, with an overall average harvest rate of 3.3 abalone per day. By contrast, the Western region daily bag limit of 10 abalone was taken on about 30% of dives.
The recreational harvest of 17.2 tonnes equates to just over 2% of the 2021 Total Allowable Commercial Catch (o833 tonnes), noting however, the survey only accounts for recreational harvest up until April rather than the full year. 

Compliance Activities

Twenty percent of rock lobster and abalone survey participants indicated they have been checked by Marine Police between November 2020 and March 2021.

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
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647

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