The NSW Lobster Fishery is a small but valuable fishery, with a GVP of approximately $12 million for the 2022/23 fishing period.
Eastern rock lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi) is the main species harvested but occasionally, southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii, and tropical rock lobster, Panulirus longipes and P. ornatus, are also caught.
The Fishery extends from the Queensland border to the Victorian border and includes all waters under jurisdiction of NSW to around 80 miles from the coast.
It is characterised by inshore and offshore sectors. Inshore fishers use small beehive or square traps in waters up to 10 metres in depth, whilst offshore fishers use large rectangular traps.
A comprehensive Fishery Management Strategy (FMS) has been prepared for the Lobster Fishery and was approved by the Minister in February 2007. The strategy includes a description of the fishery and the management arrangements that apply or are proposed. Before the strategy was finalised, a draft strategy was subject to a formal environmental impact assessment process under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The Environmental Impact Statement was publicly exhibited in December 2004 to February 2005.
The Lobster Fishery is a share management fishery and the rules and regulations that apply to the application of shares in the fishery are contained within the Fisheries Management (Lobster Share Management Plan) Regulation 2000 the Fisheries Management Act 1994 No 38 the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2019 and Fisheries Management (Supporting Plan) Regulation 2006.
Commercial fishing of the target species, eastern rock lobster in NSW is controlled through a quota management system. The quota management system was introduced in July 1994 following recommendations made by the Rock Lobster Steering Committee, as a means of controlling fishing effort in the lobster fishery.
A Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) is set each year by the statutory and independent Total Allowable Fishing Committee. The TACC is proportionately allocated to shareholders on the basis of their shareholding in the fishery.
There are currently 9621 shares held by 96 shareholders in the fishery (as at 20 September 2023) and some shareholders also hold endorsements in other NSW commercial fisheries.
A TACC of 200 tonnes has been set for the 2023/24 fishing period (1 August 2023 to 31 July 2024) following the determination of the Total Allowable Fishing Committee.
Key changes to the management arrangements which have or will be introduced to the Lobster Fishery as a result of the Lobster Fishery Management Strategy include:
The earliest records of NSW landings of the rock lobster species Sagmariasus verreauxi (formerly Jasus verreauxi) show the fishery dates back to 1873. There was a significant increase in the number of commercial lobster fishers after the Second World War with the return of ex-servicemen. At that time the fishery was centred around the northern ports between Evans Head and Crowdy Head, near Taree.
Fishing in southern NSW became significant in the 1960s when offshore grounds were discovered off Sydney. Offshore grounds were also subsequently developed around Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.
Management strategies have been employed to control the taking of lobster since the fishery began, including:
For further information contact the Lobster Fishery Manager on 1300 726 488.
For detailed information on the Lobster Fishery, read: