The Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery
Fully exploited. Stock is rebuilding under Individual Transferable Quota management.
Reliability of the Assessment
High for both zones.
Current Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC)
66 tonnes in the Eastern Zone and 320 tonnes in the Western Zone.
Limited entry, individual transferable quotas, pot restrictions, gear restrictions, seasonal closures, legal minimum size limits and protection of berried females.
The 2008 Rock Lobster and Giant Crab TACC Forum and Management Workshop was held at Queenscliff on 6 and 7 November 2008. The workshop was attended by recreational and commercial fishery stakeholders and Fisheries Victoria staff. The final record of the meeting can be downloaded below.
Summary of the 2008 Rock Lobster & Giant Crab TACC Forum and Management Workshop.
The Victorian rock lobster fishery is based primarily on one species, the Southern Rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii), which is taken by fishers using baited rocklobster pots. Southern rocklobster is well renowned for it is exceptional eating qualities and is listed as a ‘priority species’ under the Fisheries Act 1995. The majority of the catch is exported live to Asia. A significant event in the management regime for this fishery was the introduction of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) management on 16 November 2001.
Fishing is prohibited between 15 September to 15 November for males and 1 June to 15 November for females in order to protect the spawning stock. Most fishing occurs between mid-November and March, however fishing behaviour is expected to change now quota management is in force. The fishery is divided in two management zones so that the spatial nature of the stock can be better managed.
There are 85 licences in the Western Zone (5147 pots) and 54 licences (2021 pots) in the Eastern Zone. A new Rock Lobster Fishery Management Plan is currently being developed in consultation with commercial, recreational and non-extractive users.
Rock lobster fishers are required to provide detailed daily catch information in a daily catch log. In addition, they must report the number of rock lobster caught for the day by phone while still at sea via an Integrated Voice Response (IVR) system. Details including the weight and number of rock lobster being landed, port of landing and time of landing are all recorded to assist in research, compliance and management matters.
The rock lobster fishery is the second most valuable commercial fishery in Victoria. There are more fishing boats, crew and processors associated with the rock lobster fishery than any other State fishery. Currently, the total annual catch is limited to 386 tonnes and landings are valued at $15 million. Post-harvest processing and live exportation to markets in Asia greatly enhance the value of the landings.
The fishery has a long history and makes an important contribution to the economy and employment of the rural coastal communities. The fishery is managed through size limits, area and seasonal closures, fishing gear specifications and individual transferable quotas and limited entry.
The social and economic values associated with diving for rocklobsters is recognised by the recreational fishing community and contributes to the tourist industry along the Victorian coast. The recreational catch of rock lobsters is only estimated to be about 10-20 tonnes.
Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery Management Plan 2009
The Minister for Agriculture and Minister responsible for fisheries, declared a new management plan for the Victorian rock lobster fishery. The plan provides future management direction for the fishery over the next five years and has been developed in consultation with key stakeholder groups.
A Rock Lobster Fishery Management Plan Steering Committee with representatives from major stakeholder groups was established to assist in development of the plan. The purpose of this Management Plan is to ensure that this fishery is managed on an ecologically sustainable basis in the future.
Key aspects of this management plan are:
- Retention of the existing arrangements for Total Allowable Commercial Catch and individually transferable quota units.
- Investigate the possibility to establish a fully independent specialist panel comprising of fisheries science, economic and management skills to set the Total Allowable Commercial Catch for lobsters, with clear opportunities for fishers to make individual or collective submissions.
- A defined strategy for resource rebuilding and a new decision framework for the Total Allowable Commercial Catch-setting process (to be implemented in 2011) that is consistent with the principles of sustainable management and enables clear, transparent and objective decision-making.
- Retention of independently tradable quota units and pots within each commercial management zone, including the cap on the total number of pots in the fishery.
- Continued monitoring of changes in ecological risks to rock lobster stocks and habitats.
- A change in the timing of licensing and quota years to allow the most recent fishing catch data to be included in the stock assessment and Total Allowable Commercial Catch-setting process providing for more responsive fishery management.
- Establishment and use of economic performance indicators for the rock lobster fishery.
- Retention of the principle of resource sharing with a Total Allowable Catch for the recreational sector (i.e. Total Allowable Recreational Catch).
- A process for implementing an effective method of estimating the recreational rock lobster catch as input to the Total Allowable Recreational Catch.
- Reducing the possession limit for recreational fishing from 4 to 2 lobsters per person, thereby aligning with the daily bag limit and assisting compliance with catch limits.
- Establishment of a management advisory forum for the rock lobster fishery as a communication process to assist in improving management arrangements.
- A process for considering potential compliance tools such as tagging in the commercial fishery.
- A process for consulting the industry regarding the winter closure in the western zone fishery and other fishing business