Lobster Fishery Harvest Strategy

The NSW Lobster Fishery Harvest Strategy has been developed through the Lobster Harvest Strategy Working Group and public consultation processes. Harvest strategies are developed under the NSW Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines, and are also a key deliverable under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-28.

The Harvest Strategy provides a framework for monitoring, assessment, and changes to harvest for the NSW component of the Eastern Rock Lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi) stock.

The Goal of the Harvest Strategy is ‘To maintain a robust, sustainable eastern rock lobster stock biomass to support a profitable commercial lobster fishery, ongoing social, cultural and economic benefits for Aboriginal and recreational stakeholders, and ongoing benefits to the community.’

The Harvest Strategy has the following key elements:

1) A Goal and Strategic Objectives that link the Strategy to relevant legislation and policy, and values held by key stakeholders

2) Operational Objectives and decision rules for determining Total Allowable Catch (TAC) (byfor all sectors) that include:

  • A Target reference point for maintaining spawning biomass at a level supporting Optimum Sustainable Yield (OSY, a similar proxy to Maximum Economic Yield);
  • A Trigger reference point set at 25% of unfished spawning biomass, below which the TAC is linearly reduced to a Zero-catch reference point and a Rebuilding Strategy is prepared;
  • A Limit reference point set at 20% of unfished spawning biomass, below which the Rebuilding Strategy is implemented;
  • A Zero-catch reference point set at 15% of unfished spawning biomass, being the biomass at or below where harvest ceases (noting potential continuation for appropriate Aboriginal cultural harvest),
  • Specific arrangements for components of the Rebuilding Strategy, including rebuilding timeframe, increased certainty for successful rebuilding, and maintenance of the Zero-catch reference point.

As the TAC decision rules determine harvest by all sectors, subsequent decision rules are provided to determine:

  • Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) as a component of the TAC
  • Changes to the recreational lobster bag limit in accordance with changes in TAC
  • Arrangements to protect the continuation of Aboriginal cultural fishing
  • Strategic management options and research priorities that allow for future improvement.

The Harvest Strategy, together with all other relevant information, will inform determinations of Total Allowable Catch for Eastern Rock Lobster, including determination of Total Allowable Commercial Catch for the commercial sector and relevant changes to harvest controls for non-commercial sectors.

The harvest strategy has been developed to support the ongoing sustainability of the NSW lobster fishery, which has been successfully recovered from a highly depleted status and historic low biomass evident around the 1990’s. The harvest strategy supports and underpins the future of the fishery using many of the assessment and management approaches used through the journey to recovery.

You can hear more about the harvest strategy and story of the lobster fishery in the following videos.


NSW Lobster Fishery - A Journey to Recovery


NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy