The Tasmanian Cray Fishing season is approaching fast!

How do I identify a male from a female?
Where can I use Cray Rings & Pots in local waters?
How do I correctly measure and mark a Southern Rock Lobster?
Does my cray gear comply to regulations?

Read on for more info…

To clear up some uncertainty about where and how you can fish for Rock Lobsters (cray) in the upcoming season, our team did some research and found the following information from the
DPIPWE website:

Southern Rock Lobster

Other names: crayfish, cray, spiny lobster

Scientific name: Jasus edwardsii

Licence: Rock lobster pot, ring or dive licence required.  You must be 10 years or older to hold a rock lobster licence.

Season: See Recreational Fishing Seasons. You may only possess a rock lobster pot on state waters from 6am the day before the season opens and only set a pot after 1pm on the same day. Pots may then be pulled after midnight.

Minimum size: Male 110 mm, Female 105 mm

Identifying features:  These large, spiny crustaceans are orange-red in colour with a rough textured shell, being darker red in shallower waters to almost white in very deep waters.  Their features include a tough carapace, long antennae, eyes on moving stalks, six small limbs around the mouth, five pairs of walking legs and a segmented tail ending in a fan with swimmerets underneath.

Grows to: 220 mm in carapace length and 5 kg.

Habitat:  Found around Tasmania near rocky reefs and in crevices from close inshore out to 200 metres depth.  After hatching, the young larvae undergo several complicated life stages for between 9-24 months.

Fishing information: Rock lobster are highly sought after by recreational fishers who use pots and rings and also dive to catch this species.  Popular baits used include fish heads and frames and occasionally raw meats.  They are opportunistic carnivores consuming species such as mussels, abalone, sea urchins, crabs and worms.  Predators of rock lobster include octopus, sharks and fish species such as wrasse, ling and cod.

Responsible fishing tips: Rock lobsters are fragile so handle carefully, particularly when they have eggs attached or have recently moulted.  Sort your catch quickly as they can die if left exposed to warm, dry air.  Release them gently over the reef where they were caught. If you catch a tagged lobster, please record the tag details and report to the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Research.

Bag limit: Eastern Region 2, Western Region 5, northern Bass Strait 2 (above 39°33’).  These limits apply to all rock lobster species combined.

Possession limit: Eastern Region 4, Western Region 10, northern Bass Strait 4 (above 39°33’).  Special rock lobster licence holders (Western Region only) -15 rock lobster for a 14 day period.  A possession limit of 10 applies on mainland Tasmania, islands in the Western Region and on Flinders, Cape Barren and Bruny Islands including homes, shacks and vehicles.  Eastern Region possession limits apply within 100 metres of unloading any rock lobster, except where the fisher’s shack or home is within the 100 metres.  Non-licensed possession limit – 2 rock lobster. Children under 10 cannot possess rock lobster.  These limits apply to all rock lobster species combined.

Boat limit: Eastern Region 10, Western Region 25, Northern Bass Strait as per region.

Handling: Be careful when handling rock lobsters as they have sharp spines around the base of their antennae.

Public Health advice: Follow any public health alerts relating to eating wild shellfish – refer to the Department of Health and Human Services or phone their hotline on 1800 671 738.

Cooking: Rock lobster has firm, white meat with a rich medium flavour. It has a low oil content and is suitable to simmer, steam, grill or barbeque.

Measuring your Cray

The length of the rock lobster’s carapace (shell) is used to measure its size. To measure a rock lobster:

  • Measure the carapace length with an accurate ruler.
  • Place the tip of the measure between the antennal horns so that it fits hard into the middle notch.
  • If the other end of the measure reaches beyond the rear edge of the carapace, then the rock lobster is not legal size.
  • Male rock lobster must be at least 110 mm and female rock lobster at least 105 mm.
  • If the rock lobster is not of legal size, it must be returned gently to the water immediately in the area from which it was taken.

If you are taking rock lobster close to minimum size, be sure your measuring device is accurate.


Rock lobster taken recreationally must be marked as follows:

  • The central flap of the tail fan should be cut clear away with a cut just behind the fleshy portion. You may find it easier to use scissors rather than a knife. Alternatively, you can punch a clear 10 mm hole in the central tail flap.
  • If you are fishing from a boat, the tail fan should be marked within 5 minutes of the lobster being brought to the boat and before landing to shore.
  • If you are fishing from the shore, lobster should be marked within 5 minutes of landing and within 50 metres of the place where you are fishing.

Marking Lobster


Females: have large swimmerets under the tail with a slender rod (which holds the eggs) under each swimmeret. A small nipper claw is present on the ends of the rear legs.

Males: have small swimmerets under the tail and no rods or nipper claws on the rear legs.

Female and male rock lobster tails

Cray Fishing Gear

The following gear may be used to take southern rock lobster (also referred to as crayfish) and eastern (green) rock lobster.

Rock lobster diverDiving

You may take rock lobster by SCUBA and surface air, as well as snorkelling, are allowed.

  • The only aid that can be used for taking rock lobster is a gloved hand.
  • Nooses, gaffs, nets, hooks and spears are not permitted for taking lobster.
  • It is illegal to possess a noose on a boat unless it is being used for game fishing.
  • Rings and pots may be used from a boat that is being used by divers.

Floats & Buoys

Rock lobster pots, caufs, unattended rings must be marked with a buoy that is:

  • specifically designed as a buoy;
  • floats on the surface of the water;
  • is at least 195 mm in diameter at the widest point;
  • has no markings other than the licence number (and ‘P’ if it is a pot and ‘R’ if it is a ring); and
  • has the licence number clearly marked in figures not less than 70 mm high and 12 mm wide.
  • no other markings on the buoy are allowed.

Rock Lobster Caufs

A rock lobster cauf is a device for holding rock lobster in the water.

  • It must be marked with a yellow buoy.
  • A person may only use one cauf at a time.
  • A cauf may be used by more than one licensed fisher but rock lobsters held in a shared cauf must be distinguishable from other fisher rock lobster by being separated into their own compartments, each marked with the fisher’s licence number.
  • Each fisher must have their own yellow marker buoy marked with their recreational fishing licence number (rock lobster pot, ring or dive) attached to the cauf.
  • All rock lobster in a fish cauf need to be tail clipped and count towards the fishers possession limit.

Rock lobster ring

Rock Lobster Rings

Rock lobster rings may be used in all waters apart from some Marine Reserves and Fisheries Research Areas.
Rock lobster ring or hoop nets can be used to take rock lobster.
  • A licence is required, which allows you to possess and use up to 4 ring nets on state waters.
  • A person in charge of a boat must not allow more than 20 rock lobster rings to be on or used from their boat and all licensees must be present.

A rock lobster ring or hoop must comply with the following dimensions:

  • must be a single ring or hoop of no more than 1 metre in diameter, covered with mesh; and
  • if left unattended, each ring must have a buoy attached marked with the licence number.
  • A rock lobster, cray ring or hoop net is a pocket of netting attached to a single steel ring of not more than one metre in diameter.
  • Three or more lines are attached to the ring and joined above the centre of the ring to a small float which acts as an attachment point for the buoy line. A line is tied across the ring to enable bait to be attached. How it works Rock lobster rings are used only by recreational fishers in Tasmania, more commonly in shallow waters.
  • They are deployed from the shore or at a depth range where the fisher can observe them using an underwater viewer. The baited ring is set on the sea floor on habitat preferred by rock lobster such as rocky reef. The bait provides a plume of scent in the water that attracts the lobster into the middle of the steel ring where it becomes enmeshed.
  • When a rock lobster is observed by the fisher to be feeding on the bait, the metal ring is then lifted trapping the rock lobster in the pocket of netting hanging under the ring.
  • They are unable to escape due to the water movement on them as the ring is pulled to the surface or because they have become entangled in the mesh.

Read more about using a Recreational Rock Lobster Ring

Rock Lobster Pots

You may only possess and use one recreational rock lobster pot (cray pot) on State waters. A person in charge of a boat must not allow more than 5 rock lobster pots to be on or used from their boat and all licensees must be present. The pot must comply with the following dimensions:

  • No larger than 1250 mm x 1250 mm at base and 750 mm high;
  • Escape gaps should be at least 57 mm high and the lower inside edge no more than 150 mm up from the floor of the pot;
  • If there is only one escape gap, it must be at least 400 mm wide and if there are two, they must each be at least 200 mm wide;
  • The hole in the middle of the neck of a rock lobster pot has to be large enough to allow a buoy of 200 mm in diameter to pass through it without touching the sides; and
  • No objects, such as bait sticks, may obstruct the opening.

You cannot recreationally fish for rock lobster or have a recreational pot or ring on a commercial fishing trip. You cannot use rock lobster for bait.

Illustration by Peter GouldthorpeA lobster pot must be marked with a buoy, that:

  • is specifically designed as a buoy.
  • floats on the surface of the water.
  • is at least 195 mm in diameter at the widest point.
  • has no markings other than the licence number.
  • has the licence number clearly marked in figures not less than 70 mm high and 12 mm wide.
  • Must be marked with the licence number and the letter “P” for pot. See licencing page for marking details.

Read more about using Recreational Rock Lobster Pots

Cray pot illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe

Cray pots can be used south and east of the prohibited areas.

Area Restrictions - Dentrecasteaux/Derwent

The use of rock lobster pots is prohibited in Marine Reserves and Fisheries Research Areas (sse below) and the following areas:

D’Entrecasteaux Channel

The southern boundary is a line from Scotts Pt to the northern tip of Partridge island, and then from the southern tip of Partridge Island south to Labillardiere Peninsula on Bruny Island, and a northern boundary being a line from Dennes Pt to Piersons Pt.

River Derwent

The River Derwent upstream from an imaginary straight line drawn from Dennes Point to Cape Direction.

No Rock Lobster Ring Areas

Rock lobster rings may be used in All Waters apart from some Marine Reserves and Fisheries Research Areas.


Taroona Waters (Crayfish Point)

No swimming, diving, netting, potting or rings and no take or possession of abalone and rock lobster within the reserve.
Also, no taking, fishing or possession of abalone and rock lobster whilst swimming or diving within 200 metres of Taroona Waters reserve.

Tinderbox Marine Nature Reserve

No fishing or setting of fishing gear.

Ninepin Point Marine Nature Reserve

No fishing or setting of fishing gear.

George III Rock Research Area

No swimming, diving or anchoring.

Port Davey/Bathurst Harbour Marine Nature Reserve

No fishing or setting of fishing gear in part of the reserve.

Boat Gear Limit

5 rock lobster pots and 20 rock lobster rings.

Aboriginal Fishers

Aborigines engaged in aboriginal fishing are exempt from holding a fishing licence, but must comply with all other rules. Where rock lobster gear must be marked with a licence number, Aboriginal fishers should use the unique identifying code supplied to them by a recognised Aboriginal organisation or DPIPWE. More information on Aboriginal fishing.


It is illegal to take rock lobster by a hook and line, or a net.

Lost, Stolen or Irretrievable Rock Lobster Gear

If you leave your rock lobster pot in the water for longer than allowed due to bad weather, illness or theft, contact the Marine Police on 0427 655 557 or your nearest Police Station and provide them with your licence number.

The information contained in this article is courtesy of:

Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Recreational Fisheries Section
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7001

Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647

Cray pots, cray rings, floats, ropes, clips and Cray Bait are all available at Franklin Marine.

Call in on your way south – we’ve got plenty of room for you to pull in with the boat!

So get ready for the season – don’t forget check Life Jackets and your boat over for safety!

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