Commercial Dive Fishery

​​​​​​​​​​​2021/22 Season TAC 

TAC for 2021/22 season (tonnes)
​Short spined sea urchin
​Long spined sea urchin


The Commercial Dive Fishery has been operating since the mid-1980s, but the first formal management plan was not introduced until 2005 when the 53 licences became transferable. A commercial dive licence entitles the holder or supervisor to harvest both types of sea urchins and periwinkle shellfish: 
  1. Short spined sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) - The short spined native urchin has well-established markets. There is a minimum size limit of 75mm for this species and a total allowable catch (TAC) does apply across five different zones. 
  2. Long spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) - The long spined urchin was recently found to be invading Tasmanian waters. Markets are still being developed for this species but it is considered a pest species so there is no size limit or TAC for this species. 
  3. Periwinkles (Lunella undulata) - The commercial d​ive licence also allows the holder or supervisor to take periwinkles. There is a minimum size limit of 45mm and a TAC for this species across the same zone structure as for the short spined sea urchin. 
Harvesting is usually undertaken by divers using hookah gear from small runabout vessels. There is no quota allocated to divers for any species in the Commercial Dive Fishery. For the short spined sea urchin and periwinkle, there is a "first in first served" policy. That is, when the TAC is reached in a zone, that zone is closed until the following licensing year. Licensing year runs from 1 September to 31 August in the following year. 

Managing the fishery 

​The Commercial Dive Fishery is managed under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 and Fisheries (Commercial Dive) Rules 2011.

The fishery uses a suite of management tools to maintain a sustainable fishery. Input controls include limiting the number of available licences to 53 and restricting harvest techniques to diving using only hands or tongs. Output controls limit the amount of fish that can be taken by allocating a TAC to each of the five zones and applying size limits that allow the species to spawn at least twice before entering the fishery.  

Dive Zones 

​The Commercial Dive Fishery is divided into five zones. Go to the Commercial Dive Zones​ page for the description and map of the five zones. 

​TAC and Catch Update ​

In the interest of sustainability, the amount of short spined sea urchins and periwinkle that can be harvested from defined areas (zones) is limited by allocating a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the area. Once the TAC is reached, the zone is closed for the remaining of the licensing year. Go to Catch and Closure Information​ page for catch updates on the amount of short spined sea urchins, long spined sea urchins and periwinkles harvested by commercial fishers. 

​More information 

Long spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus) IMAS Research 

FRDC project 2017-033: Fisheries biology of short-spined sea urchins​

Operational Instructions: ​

 Final arrangements for 2021-2022 Commercial Dive licensing year (PDF 374Kb)​

Commercial Dive Fishery Rules:

These two policy documents explain the rules for the commercial dive fishery. They should be read together and form the fisheries management plan. ​

 2011 Update to the Commercial Dive Policy Document (PDF 87Kb)

 2005 Commercial Dive Policy Document (PDF 279Kb)​​


Wild Fisheries Management Branch
Level 3, 134 Macquarie Street
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3000