East Coast rock lobster fishery open despite planned winter shut down

A commercial rock lobster fishery on the East Coast will remain open during the scheduled winter closure.

The rock lobster fishery will remain open from April 23 until June 14 because of the impact algal blooms had on the area last year.

A spokesman from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) said the decision was made because of the impact of the algal bloom.

“This decision has been made due to the significant time that parts of the east coast commercial rock lobster fishery were shut due to the harmful algal bloom event between June and December 2016. This impacted approximately 12 weeks of the commercial fishing season,” the spokesman said.

Areas between St Helens Point and Adventure Bay at Bruny Island will be open to rock lobster fishers.

”There are no significant stock implications for the East Coast stock rebuilding because the commercial catch is capped in this area,” the spokesman said.

The period of winter closure can be reviewed and changed in light of scientific stock information or unpredictable weather events.

”Rescinding this closure provides east coast fishers with a highly valued opportunity to fish in the area in question when the beach price is likely to be high and before the onset of the high risk period for another harmful algal bloom event,” the spokesman said.

Rock lobster fishers are required to have a licence before heading out and there are size limits for each lobster caught.  The minimum size limits are 110mm for male lobsters and 105mm for female lobsters.

DPIPWE recommends fishers try to size up the lobster before taking it and measure the catch as soon as possible. It is important to ensure you measure each catch before you leave the water if you are diving from the shore and measure before you leave the dive site if you are catching from a boat.

Rock lobster that are not kept should be released carefully in the area from which they were taken and not over a sandy bottom.