The NSW Government is introducing new recreational fishing rules for rock lobster and dusky flathead in NSW, which will see the bag limit for lobsters increase.
The new rules were developed with the Recreational Fishing NSW Advisory Council and follow a comprehensive community consultation process, which showed strong support for changes related to both species, said NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) deputy director general Sean Sloan.
"This is an exciting development in the recreational fishing space for rock lobster in NSW, with the combined bag limit set to increase from two to three per person," Mr Sloan said.
"The changes in the bag limit for Rock Lobster are a result of effective research and management controls in NSW over the past few decades, with recreational fishers as well as commercial fishers helping to enable the population of Eastern Rock Lobster to recover to a healthy level."
Ongoing stock assessment modelling by DPI scientists demonstrates an increase in abundance of Eastern Rock Lobster within the legal-size range (104 millimetres to 180mm) since the mid-1990s, when the stock was in a depleted state.
For commercial fishers, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for Eastern Rock Lobster has been increased to the current level of 180 tonnes per year, using comprehensive data monitoring programs and careful management through the Total Allowable Catch setting process to improve the health of the fishery.
"These changes in the Lobster fishery are a good demonstration of the benefits of the partnership and investments made by Government and commercial fishers in the science that have led to effective management," Mr Sloan said.
"A new harvest strategy has been adopted for the Lobster fishery to guide decision-making in the future and support equitable catch sharing between the fishing sectors, and DPI will continue to monitor and assess the fishery's ongoing health."
Mr Sloan also said DPI has answered the ongoing calls from the fishing community for rule changes to dusky flathead, to help boost the stock of bigger fish and ultimately provide better fishing opportunities.
"We have changed the bag limit of dusky flathead per person from 10 to 5 and introduced a 'slot limit' of 36 to 70 centimetres for recreational fishers," Mr Sloan said.
"These proactive changes are designed to increase the number of spawning fish and boost egg production, which will in turn improve fishing opportunities."
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Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Council chair professor Johann Bell said the changes would provide for greater protection of large and reproductively important female fish.
"A new maximum size limit and a lower bag limit will promote a more natural age structure (comprising more 'older' fish), which is expected to increase stock resilience over time," Professor Bell said.
"There have been no changes to recreational fishing rules for dusky flathead since 2001. Maximum size limits for dusky flathead have been widely accepted in Queensland and Victoria where their current limits have been in place since 2009 and 2012, respectively, and it's fantastic to see NSW adopt these new fishing rules which will benefit dusky flathead and ultimately all recreational fishers in NSW."
Mr Sloan said the changes to the flathead rules would improve fishing and tourism opportunities even further in recreational fishing havens, such as Lake Macquarie in the NSW Hunter region and St Georges Basin on the state's South Coast, which are well known trophy flathead fisheries, as well as increasing recreational fishing opportunities all along the coastline.
"Rock lobster and dusky flathead are important species for all of our fishing sectors and consumers, and are highly sought after," Mr Sloan said.
"These changes will be implemented on August 1 and enable fishers to hit the water and fish knowing these species are in good hands."
For more information on these new rules, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/recreational/fishing-rules-and-regs
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