Scalefish Rules review vital for the future

​To help ensure the Scalefish Fishery can be sustainable for future generations, the public are now invited to have their say on a number of proposed changes to the Scalefish Rules.

The Scalefish Fishery includes a range of commercial and recreational sectors in coastal waters and is governed by the Fisheries (Scalefish) Rules 2015 (the Scalefish Rules).   

Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) Marine Resources General Manager Ian Dutton said some scalefish species have recently been assessed as depleted or depleting.

“The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania has identified that southern calamari, striped trumpeter, bastard trumpeter, blue warehou, southern garfish and jackass morwong are now listed as depleted or depleting,” he said.

“What’s particularly concerning is the depleted status of the sand flathead, which is the most popular recreational fish in Tasmania, accounting for 70 per cent of all recreational fish taken from state waters.”

To help ensure the viability of these species, the Tasmanian Government is proposing changes to the Scalefish Rules to help ensure the long-term sustainability for future generations of sand flathead and other scalefish species, and to improve the operational management and compliance of fisheries.

Consultation on the proposed changes to these rules will be undertaken as they impact both recreational and commercial fishers.

“The proposed rules will take effect later this year. We are seeking feedback on these changes as they are critical to the long-term sustainability of these scalefish species and ultimately the food security and quality of fishing enjoyed by Tasmanians,” Dr Dutton said.

In advance of these proposed changes taking effect the Tasmanian Government will immediately enact measures to alleviate fishing pressure on sand flathead while the review of the Scalefish Rules is undertaken. These interim measures will apply from 20 April 2023 and will remain in place until the new Scalefish Rules come into effect for recreational fishers on 1 November 2023. These interim measures include:

  • An increase in the minimum size limit of sand flathead from 32 to 35 centimetres which will apply to both recreational and commercial fishers
  • A new statewide bag limit for recreational sand flathead fishers of 10 fish.

Commercial fishers will also not be allowed to take sand flathead from Frederick Henry and Norfolk Bays during this period.

“These interim measures are put in place to provide protection for this iconic species until more comprehensive measures can be put in place, after the rules review and the public have had the chance to have their say on the changes,” Dr Dutton said.

Under the wider Scalefish Rules review, which are open for consultation until 29 May 2023, the Tasmanian Government is proposing a range of actions to ensure improved fishing opportunities for the future, including:

  • Reviewing fish size and possession limits for depleted and depleting species (for all sectors); 
  • Introducing regional and statewide rules for depleted and depleting species; 
  • Introducing two new limited commercial calamari licence types;
  • Reviewing recreational gillnetting arrangements; and
  • introducing registration of charter fishing operations and related reporting requirements.

The proposed rules, which will affect both recreational and commercial fishers, have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders and are based on recently published scientific advice from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) – see Scalefish-Assessment_2020-21.pdf (

Stakeholders and the fishing community are encouraged to have their say on the proposed changes at from 19 April 2023 to 29 May 2023. 

Public information sessions will be held state-wide during April and May 2023; more information is available at

The interim measures for sand flathead bag and size limits will apply immediately. The final measures, determined after the outcomes of the public consultation, and all other changes for recreational fishing will come into effect on 1 November 2023. Some commercial rules, such as the new limited commercial licences and trip limits for calamari will apply before October 2023.

“The changes to the Scalefish Rules have been developed to benefit both recreational and commercial fishers; ultimately it is up to all fishers to play their part to help ensure we can continue to fish for these species for generations to come,” Dr Dutton said.


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