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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Changes to recreational rock lobster fishing rules

From 1 July 2018, recreational fishers can now fish for rock lobster all year round.

However, a maximum of two floats only may now be attached to your pot and you are required to ensure the top half of your pot ropes are hung vertically in the water column, when using more than 20 m of rope (see diagram below).

In addition, recreational fishers on both the south and west coasts will now have the same night fishing curfew (see below for more details). 

 

When did the new rules and come into effect?

1 July 2018 and they will apply year round. 

Where do the new rules apply?

All Western Australian waters off the western and southern coast, from North West Cape southwards (south of 21° 44’ south latitude and west of 129° 00’ east longitude).

Why is there no longer a closed season?

The closed season is no longer required for the sustainable management of the resource. These arrangements complement those for the commercial sector who have a 12 month seasons following the introduction of quota management.

Do I still need to hold recreational rock lobster fishing licence?

Yes. You are still required to have a licence to fish for any species of rock lobster and to produce it when requested to by a Fisheries and Marine Officer.

When can I fish for rock lobster?

All year round. However, while there is no longer a season for catching rock lobster, you must not pull a pot or dive for rock lobster at any time either:

  • before 4.30 am or after 7.30 pm on any day during the period 15 October of any year to 31 March of the following year; or
  • at any time before 6.00 am or after 6.00 pm on any day during the period 1 April in any year to 14 October of the same year, 

When do I need to hang my pot rope vertically in the water column?

When more than 20 m of rope (combined pot line and float rig) is attached to your pot, you must ensure that the top half of the pot line rope is held vertically in the water column (see diagram). This applies to fishers all year round.

If you’re fishing with less than 20 m of rope, you do not need to ensure rope is hung vertically in the water column, however you are encouraged to minimise the amount of rope that sits on the water’s surface to reduce boat strikes and the possibility of whale entanglements.

Why do I need to hang my pot rope vertically in the water column?

Reducing the amount of rope on the surface of the water will minimise the risk of gear entanglements with migrating hump back whales during the winter months, and;

It will also reduce the loss of fishing gear from boats that run over or entangle with pot ropes.

How can I hang my pot rope vertically in the water column?

  • Attach a weight to the rope, half way down the pot line or;
  • Replace the top half of the pot line rope with negatively buoyant rope.

Suggested ways to safely and efficiently weight rope:

  • Attach a ‘shark clip’ to a snapper sinker and attach to the pot line rope.
  • Attach (splice) a small piece of rope with sinkers attached, into the main pot line rope.

It is recommended that you use at least a 16 ounce ( ~450gram) weight to ensure rope remains vertical in the water column.

What is a ‘pot line’?

Pot line means the length of rope between the first surface float and the bridle (see diagram).

What is a ‘float rig’?

Float rig means the rope on the surface of the water that is connected to the first surface float and the last surface float, including any rope beyond the last surface float (see diagram).

Is ‘dog boning’ or rope coiling permitted?

Coiling and tying up excess rope on the surface of the water is called ‘dog boning’ and is permitted although not encouraged due to the risk of rope coming undone or lengthening if not secured correctly.  

Fishers must ensure the dog bone or coiled rope is held securely – any dog bone or rope coil that comes undone may result in the combined pot and float line rope exceeding 20 m in length. (see diagram,).

It is important to note that all gear may be subject to compliance checks by a Fisheries and Marine Officer.

How many floats can I have attached to my rock lobster pot?

You may only have 2 floats attached to your pot at any time, regardless of the amount of rope you are fishing with.

How many floats can I have attached to my rock lobster pot if I am pot sharing (for example when two licenced fishers are sharing a rock lobster pot)?

When two licenced fishers are sharing a rock lobster pot, there can only be a maximum of two surface floats attached to the float rig.

For example: one float will have your gear number on it and the other float will have the other licence holders gear number on it. 

Have there been any changes to the bag and size limits, possession limits, boat limits or pot limits for rock lobster?

No.
 
All of these limits remain unchanged. You can find more information in our Recreational fishing for rock lobster guide

May I still retain female setose rock lobster?

Yes, but any species of lobster that is carrying eggs (berried females) or Western rock lobsters between Windy Harbour and North West Cape with tar spot are protected.

You must not take protected lobsters, have them in your possession, buy, sell or bring them into the State or WA waters.

Last modified: 29/06/2018 3:33 PM

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