Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Research

​​​​​​​​Recreational Rock Lobster Catch Research Trial – 2021/22

Recreational rock lobster fishers are being asked to log their catches and fishing details in the new Rock Lobster Catch Monitoring App as part of a trial to better manage the rock lobster fishery - particularly for the East Coast. 

Real-time catch data collected through the App will improve reporting of recreational catch. 

Using the App is entirely voluntary, and feedback will help develop future versions.  Phone reception is not required to use the App - catch data is recorded and will download later when you have reception.

We encourage rock lobster fishers to be part of the trial to help improve future functionality of the App which will benefit recreational fishers as well as compliance.​


Recreational rock lobster fishers - help us fine tune the new Rock Lobster Catch app. Download it, log your catch and send in your feedback. You can win some great prizes!!

🦞One of two 20 litre gas cray cookers valued at $200. Register to use the app and hold a valid licence or UIC (Aboriginal fishers) to go in the draw. One drawn after 21 December and the second one after 14 January.

🦞One of two inflatable PFDs yokes valued at $150 each. To be eligible, log at least one fishing trip before the end of January.

🦞One of two cooler boxes valued at $150. Complete the survey (to be released in February) to go in the draw.

Where to download

Rock Lobster Catch Monitoring App

You can download the app using the following links. 

App Store Logo - Apple 

Download the iPhone and iPad version from the iTunes App Store (iOS device only).

Download the Android version from the Google Play Store

How to log your catch 



Feed​back can be sent to: or use the feedback link on the app.​

Why is a catch app being trialled?​

  • Fishers want to be more involved in fisheries management by providing catches, observations, and fishing information.
  • Real-time catch data will help manage the fishery effectively, especially for the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone.
  • It ​MAY BE a cost-effective way to monito​r individual season limits (ISL).
  • It could be used in the future to report transiting through zones to help compliance, or record lobster measurements and citizen science observations.​

What happens to the trial data?​

The purpose of the trial is to develop a practical app. We are also interested in evaluating the effectiveness of app data against current survey methods and will be providing the data to IMAS in accordance with our personal information protection statements and the IMAS data-sharing agreements. Any catch will be reported by area only and your personal details or fishing locations will never be publicly disclosed.

How accurate does my fishing location need to be?

We only need to know the general area where you fish, not your precise location. For example, if you are fishing in the rocks north of Fortescue Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, just tap the location anywhere on the eastern​ side of the Peninsula. If you are fishing below Cape Pillar, drop the pin south of the Peninsula. If you fish Storm Bay, drop the pin in the general vicinity. 

What is an individual season limit, and will it be implemented?​

An ISL is a maximum allocation of rock lobster each fisher can take per season or area. ISLs are often suggested by recreational fishers as a fairer way to share catch amongst themselves or to restrain catch if needed.  

An ISL and app to monitor rock lobster catches will be beneficial even if the East Coast catch amount is increased for the recreational sector because it will: 
  • help manage growth in the total catch, and 
  • share the catch in a fairer way between recreational fishers.
Any introduction of an ISL would require formal consultation.  At this stage, we are trialling systems and ideas. 

Will the App replace the current IMAS rock lobster survey? ​

Using an app to estimate catch is a largely untested approach that needs careful research and review. A high degree of confidence in the data is needed before catch apps can either replace or complement existing survey methods. 

IMAS currently conducts an annual survey of randomly selected licence holders to estimate the recreational catch. Interviewers contact fishers regularly to collect statistically robust catch information. Read about the current methodology at: Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2020-21 Catch Estimates

What if I am part of the current IMAS Survey? 

If you are part of the IMAS Rock Lobster and Abalone Survey you can still use the App, but please continue reporting your catch and fishing details to the IMAS interviewers. We will be interested in your feedback about using both systems.​​

IMAS recreational catch monitoring research project

IMAS is completing a report on options to monitor and regulate recreational catch in the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery focusing on the east coast. This project:
  • conducted a global literature review to identify alternative monitoring and management options;
  • assessed the feasibility of using catch tags and apps.
The project conducted a trial using tags and apps in March/April 2021. The Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2020-21 Survey sought fisher views on the use of harvest tags, catch apps and individual season limits. These responses, as well as feedback from previous fishery reviews, indicate general support for apps and harvest tags.  

Why a catch App over Harvest Tags? ​

We are developing the App over other options because it is cost-effective and provides real-time data with little effort required by fishers.  

Tags have been considered but they need a distribution system, and tag loss and plastic pollution can present problems. There are still issues to resolve, such as alternate reporting systems for fishers who are less tech-savvy or don’t take their phone on the water so we will also consider telephone reporting, catch cards and other systems. 


Recreational Rock Lobster & Abalone Fisheries: 2020-21 Catch Estimates

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) reports annually on the recreational rock lobster and abalone fishing seasons by surveying a proportion of licence holders.  Their report contains estimates of catch, days fished by fishing methods and area, and social information including attitudes about perceived stock status, fishing quality and management.  

The survey method used is the phone/diary method, where participants are contacted by phone then issued a diary to record their fishing activities.  They are contacted throughout the season by an interviewer who records their fishing details. This methodology has been confirmed by an independent expert as the most cost effective way of accurately estimating catch.

Rock Lobster Summary - Season 2020-21

Almost 18,200 licenced rock lobster fishers (1500 more than in 2019-20) took an estimated total catch of 72,751 rock lobster during the period 1st November 2020 to 30th April 2021.
  • There were 15,200 pot, 9,000 dive; and 4,300 ring licences.
  • The average catch rate was 0.98 lobsters per day with daily harvest rates for diving (1.49 lobster) more than double that for pots (0.82 lobster).
  • 68% of the total catch (by weight) was taken by potting, 30% by diving and less than 3% by rings.
  • 70% of the catch (by weight) was taken from the East Coast, 22% North Coast and 8% from the West Coast.
The catch in the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone was estimated at 51.1 tonnes.

The recreational catch for 2020-21 is estimated at 81.6 tonnes, which is 48% of the total allowable recreational catch (TARC) of 170 tonnes. This is equivalent to about 6.7% of the 2020-21 total allowable catch (TAC) of 1221 tonnes, which includes the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) of 1051 tonnes.

Abalone Summary - Season 2020-21

11,750 recreational abalone licence holders harvested an estimated 36,200 abalone (17.2 tonnes) between 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021.  By numbers, 64% of the catch was taken from the East Coast, 29% from the North Coast and 7% from the West Coast.

The Eastern region daily bag limit of 5 abalone was achieved on about 40% of all dives targeting abalone, with an overall average harvest rate of 3.3 abalone per day. By contrast, the Western region daily bag limit of 10 abalone was taken on about 30% of dives.
The recreational harvest of 17.2 tonnes equates to just over 2% of the 2021 Total Allowable Commercial Catch (o833 tonnes), noting however, the survey only accounts for recreational harvest up until April rather than the full year. 

Compliance Activities

Twenty percent of rock lobster and abalone survey participants indicated they have been checked by Marine Police between November 2020 and March 2021.

For Stock Assessment Reports for the Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone fisheries, please see the Publications & Resources page on the IMAS website.

Information Paper - Catch Tags for the Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster Fishery

Catch tags have been promoted by some rock lobster fishery stakeholders as a potential solution for managing the recreational take of rock lobster on the state’s east coast.

In 2016, DPIPWE officers undertook a comprehensive assessment of catch tags, including a cost benefit analysis of their application. The assessment included examining ​how catch tags are used in other jurisdictions both in Australia and overseas.

The assessment found that catch tags would be:

  • costly to implement and administer and;
  • unlikely to constrain the recreational rock lobster catch in the Eastern Region.




Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647