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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Changes to recreational rock lobster fishing rules

Between 1 November and 31 March in the following year, it is no longer be mandatory for recreational fishers to use weighted ropes when fishing with rock lobster pots. Recreational fishers must still ensure the top half of their pot ropes are hung vertically in the water column, when using more than 20 m of rope, from 1 April through to 31 October in any year (see diagram below).

Despite the changes, recreational fishers are encouraged to either reduce their overall length of rope or continue to weigh down the top half of the pot line during the summer months to reduce the incidence of boat strikes on lobster ropes and floats.

 

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).

Do I still need to a 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. 

Why is there no longer a closed season?

A closed season is currently not required for the sustainable management of the resource. These arrangements complement those for the commercial sector who have a 12-month season following the introduction of quota management.

What type of pot can I use to fish for rock lobster?

Various types of pots: batten, beehive (cane) and other pots (such as moulded plastic pots), can be used. Before using pots, check that they conform to standards set out in the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995.

See our Recreational fishing for rock lobster guide for details.

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.

The use of pool noodles is not permitted.

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 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 holder’s gear number on it.

Can I retrieve a pot that has no floats attached?

No. You are not permitted to pull any fishing gear (marked with floats or otherwise) unless that fishing gear belongs to you. If you see ropes or pots without a float, do not attempt to retrieve it. Contact your local Fisheries Office, advising the location (GPS preferred) and colour of rope and if possible, description of the pot.

Can I move or pull unfished gear or gear blocking navigation routes?

No. Please advise your local Fisheries Office and advise the location (GPS preferred) and description of gear.

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

Between 1 April and 31 October (inclusive) and 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.

Is it illegal to use my weighted line between November and March?

No. You may continue to weigh down the top half of the pot line for the entire season. In fact, it is encouraged that fishers either reduce their overall length of rope or continue to weigh down the top half of the pot line during the summer months in order to reduce the incidence of boat strikes on lobster ropes and floats.

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.

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: 24/11/2021 9:38 AM

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