Tropical rock lobster fishery
The east coast crayfish and rock lobster fishery includes all tidal waters east of longitude 142°31'49'E, south of latitude 10°41'S and north of latitude 14°S. The commercial fishery area also includes tidal waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and adjoining waterways, between the 25 nautical mile line and the shore, south of latitude 10°48'S. However, the commercial fishery operates almost exclusively on the east coast between Cape York and Cape Melville.
The fishery operates under the fishery symbol R.
The east coast fishery consists mostly of 1 species – the tropical spiny rock lobster (Panulirus ornatus). Other species of tropical spiny rock lobster are also found in Queensland waters, but these are much less abundant and contribute only marginally to the total catch.
Tropical rock lobster are commercially harvested by hand using underwater breathing apparatus (hookah or scuba) and hand spears, spear guns or lobster hoops.
- The fishery is managed under the crayfish and tropical rocklobster harvest strategy.
- The fishery has limited entry:
- 28 licences with R symbol.
- To operate in the fishery, fishers must have:
- a primary commercial fishing licence
- at least one R symbol
- sufficient quota required to fish.
- The person in charge of an operation must hold a commercial fisher licence to operate under a primary commercial fishing licence.
- There is a total allowable commercial catch and individual transferable quota units are allocated to each licence.
- Primary boats can be up to 25m long.
- Tender boats can be up to 10m long.
- A maximum of 8 tender boats can operate under a licence.
- Only 1 diver per tender boat can operate under a licence.
- Distance between tender and primary boats is restricted to 5 nautical miles.
- There is an annual closed season north of 14°S from 1 October to 31 January.
- The minimum size limit is 90mm (carapace length) and 115mm (tail length).
- Fishers must not take egg-bearing and tar-spot females.
Reporting and monitoring
Commercial fishers must comply with a number of reporting requirements.
In summary, fishers must:
- report trip/catch notices via the Qld eFisher commercial fishing app or the Automated Integrated Voice Response system
- complete compulsory daily logbooks – catch and effort plus threatened, endangered and protected animals
- keep sale dockets for all wholesale sales for 5 years, including to businesses involved in the processing and storage of fisheries resources.
Commercial fishers must also have vessel tracking on their boats to monitor compliance with regulations.