Recreational Fishing Rule Changes 2021 - FAQs

Permitting Crab Traps into Lake Macquarie on a trial basis October 2021

What are the changes?

  • Crab traps are permitted in Lake Macquarie in waters where recreational nets (hoop nets, witches hats) are permitted, on a trial basis for two years.
  • This includes implementation of a maximum trap entrance size of 32cm to mitigate the risk of turtle entanglement.

Why are we making these changes?

Previously Lake Macquarie was closed to any method involving the use of a trap, other than a bait trap. This longstanding crab trap closure from the 1970s is a legacy of commercial hauling activities to prevent haul nets becoming snagged on crab traps.

Given Lake Macquarie is now a Recreational Fishing Haven, it is proposed for recreational fishers to be permitted to use crab traps in the Lake to enhance fishing opportunities.

As part of a trial, there will be a requirement for the maximum entrance width of crab traps to not exceed 32cm. The entrances of wide mouth crab traps, such as collapsible rectangular traps, can be easily reduced using a cable tie, cord or similar. This will still enable crabs to enter the trap but will restrict entry of non-target species such as turtles.

Where in Lake Macquarie can I set crab gear?

Any part of Lake Macquarie or its tributaries other than certain areas that will remain closed to crab fishing including Whiteheads Lagoon, Upper Reaches/Mannering Bay, Muddy Lake and Lake Eraring, Lake Petite and Duck Hole Lagoon.

How many traps and nets can fishers now use?

·     This trial permits fishers to use (and be in possession of) a maximum of 2 crab traps, in addition to 4 hoop net or witches hat, which is consistent to that permitted in other waterways across NSW.

·  What are the crab trap requirements?

·     A float/ buoy to be labelled with CT, initial and surname, year of birth (YOB) and postcode of the person who sets, uses or lifts the fishing gear. The minimum height of the float being at least 50mm above the water with all letters to be a minimum of 15mm and in a colour contrasting to the buoy. There must also be a 50 gram weight attached to the float/buoy line so that no line is floating on the surface of the water.

·     The float/ buoy must measure not less than 100mm in all dimensions.

·     Any fish caught (other than crabs) must be returned to the water.

·     Do not set gear in areas of high boat traffic or navigation channels.

For more information on gear requirements, see here.

Mud crab in round trap

Changes to Yabby Traps for Recreational Fishers in NSW

What are the changes?

In 2003, opera house style yabby traps were prohibited in areas where platypus are mostly found; those waters east of the Newell Highway and in some stretches of the Murray, Edward and Murrumbidgee Rivers west of the Newell Highway.

This rule change will prohibit the use of opera house yabby traps by recreational fishers in the remaining waters of NSW.

When will this change come into effect?

The change will come into effect 30 April 2021 after the summer fishing season. An advisory program will be undertaken to ensure fishers are aware of the changes.

What other fishing gear am I allowed to use to catch yabbies?

Open style pyramid lift nets can currently be used in all inland waters where hoop nets are used as well as where yabby traps were used. Pyramid lift nets are a more environmentally friendly option.

Why are we making this change?

The rule change will provide greater protection for air breathing native wildlife, such as water rats, platypus, birds and turtles, which can inadvertently get caught in traps whilst foraging for food and drown.

Will commercial fishers be restricted from using opera house nets?

DPI Fisheries will be working with the commercial yabby sector to adopt new traps designs in waters where opera house traps are used, to ensure ongoing protection for native species.

Opera house yabbie traps being replaced by lift nets

Change to Blue Swimmer Crab recreational fishing size limit

What are the changes?

The Blue Swimmer Crab size limit (carapace length) will increase from 6 cm to 6.5 cm for recreational fishers on 30 April 2021.

When will these changes come into effect?

The change will come into effect 30 April 2021 after the summer fishing season. An advisory program will be undertaken to ensure fishers are aware of the changes.

Why are we making these changes?

The increase in size limit will improve the productivity of the stock through time and lead to an overall increase in the abundance of crabs.

It will also align with the current size limit for commercial fishers.

Will this change the Mud Crab size limit?

No, this change applies to Blue Swimmer Crabs only.