Draft NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy

The draft NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy (Harvest Strategy) has been developed by the Lobster Harvest Strategy Working Group, a sub-committee of CommFish NSW, with support from DPI Fisheries staff. Harvest strategies are also a key deliverable under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-28.

The draft Harvest Strategy applies to the NSW component of the Eastern Rock Lobster (Sagmaraisus verreauxi) stock.

The Goal of the Lobster 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 draft NSW Lobster 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 TAC (by 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
  • Broad rules for changes to recreational bag/possession limits. Note that DPI Fisheries is running a separate specific public consultation process on a proposal to change the recreational bag limit for eastern rock lobster from 2 to 3 lobster per day. If this proposal is supported, it will be incorporated into this draft NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy. Information on this separate consultation process can be found at https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/fisheries-consultation/eastern-rock-lobster-and-dusky-flathead
  • Strategic management options and research priorities that allow for future improvement.

The Strategy currently identifies that decision rules for Aboriginal cultural harvest will be developed in consultation with the Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council.

Summary table of the reference points and decisions rules in the draft Lobster Harvest Strategy

Reference Points

TAC rule

TACC rule

Recreational rule

Aboriginal Cultural rule

Target (Optimum Sustainable Yield)

Maintain spawning biomass at target by increasing or decreasing exploitation (harvest) of exploitable biomass

TACC = TAC – estimates of recreational, Aboriginal cultural and illegal/unreported harvest

Change bag/possession limits to maintain resource share and maintain at target

Determine rules in consultation with AFAC

Trigger (Bsp25)

Reduce exploitation rate + review harvest strategy

TACC = TAC – estimates of recreational, Aboriginal cultural and illegal/unreported harvest

+ review harvest strategy

Determine rules in consultation with AFAC

Limit (Bsp20)

Reduce exploitation rate + review harvest strategy

TACC = TAC – estimates of recreational, Aboriginal cultural and illegal/unreported harvest

+ implement rebuilding strategy

Determine rules in consultation with AFAC

Zero-catch (Bsp15)

Set TAC at 0Set TACC to 0

Set bag/possession to 0

Determine rules in consultation with AFAC

Meta rules


Small (5t) and large (20t) change limiting rules

TAFC may break-out in exceptional circumstances

Apply at transition between reference points or at 5 yr strategy review

Cultural fishing may continue if TAC set at 0

Have your say on the draft NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy

Public consultation closed on 3 December 2021.

The NSW Lobster Harvest Strategy Working Group will review all submissions and revise the Harvest Strategy where appropriate. The final Harvest Strategy will be submitted to CommFish NSW before being provided to the Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW for formal adoption.

Submissions are public information

To improve transparency of policy decisions, we intend to make all submissions publicly available on our website. Withholding any information is at our discretion.

If you believe there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission you must advise the Department. Reasons may include that information is commercially sensitive or personal. You should advise the Department if your reasons relate to the whole submission or only parts of it.

Note that people can ask for copies of submissions (and any other information held by the Department) under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). The GIPA Act encourages information to be made publicly available, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Privacy Collection Notice

The Department of Regional NSW is collecting your name, email address, phone number, postal address, fishing business number, commercial fishing registration number or aquaculture permit number so that we know who has made a submission and that we can contact you about your submission in future, if necessary.

We may choose to proactively publish submissions we receive during consultation to further public discussion and transparency of policy decisions.

We will securely store the information and, unless you have specified otherwise, may make your submission publicly available in full.
Providing the requested information is not required by law. If you choose not to provide us with your name, email address, phone number, postal address, fishing business number and commercial fishing registration number then we may not be able to get in touch with you about your submission or update you on the project you are interested in.

You can request access to your information at any time. To access or update your information, or for more details on our privacy obligations, refer to our Privacy Management Plan (https://www.regional.nsw.gov.au/privacy/privacy-management-plan) or you can contact us by:

Email: gipa@regional.nsw.gov.au

Or Post: Department of Regional NSW, Legal & Governance
Level 2, 66 Harrington Street, Sydney 2000