The annual recreational lobster season has started in fine style and Recfishwest wants to remind all recreational fishers to act responsibly when targeting these valuable crustaceans.
Last year, there were many reports of pots belonging to recreational fishers being illegally interfered with. These included witnesses seeing their pots pulled by other people, and of pots also being removed.
Some pot thieves are suspected of cutting off floats and replacing them with their own, while there were also suspicions of divers removing lobster from pots. There are significant fines for tampering with other people’s pots and recreational fishers are also reminded pots cannot be pulled before 4.30am. Anyone diving for crays is also reminded to make sure they use a dive flag, to alert other marine users to their presence.
As with any type of fishing, safety is paramount for all involved. Fishing rigs that become entangled with lobster pots have the potential to cause severe injury to anyone who subsequently pulls the pot. If you lose a rig to a lobster pot rope, take steps to mark the rope to alert the owner of the pot to the danger. The best idea is to tie a tag of some kind to the rope or tie the floats together if the pot has more than one float.
Boating safety is also paramount when lobster fishing and in addition to having all the required safety equipment there are some simple steps to reduce the risk of rope entanglement. These steps include using non-buoyant upper line , coiling surplus line, using a highly visible float and not setting pots on the leads to anchorages. Boaties can also reduce the risk of becoming entangled by keeping a good look out, not traveling at night and passing on the leeward side of a float.
Check the weather conditions before launching and leave the pots for another day if the ocean is likely to be too rough to ensure safety.
Observing boat ramp etiquette is also important for lobster fishers – be mindful of your place in the queue when both launching and retrieving and always have your boat ready for launch before you back down the ramp.
Make sure you have a rope on the boat to tie it off to the jetty and try the motor before you put the boat in the water. Once you start pulling the pots, remember to always clip the tails of any lobster you intend to keep within five minutes of catching them. Always measure your lobsters before keeping them, with a legal minimum carapace length of 76mm for Western Rock Lobster.
Southern Rock Lobster – Legal Carapace size of 98.5mm. Western Rock Lobster’s are legal at 76mm
Undersized lobster, and lobsters in reproductive condition (berried, seatosed and tar spot), must be returned to the water . You need a current licence from Fisheries to fish for lobster and the daily bag limit is eight per licence holder for Western and Southern Rock Lobsters and 4 per day for Tropical and Ornate Lobsters.
As you would have heard, new lobster rules to benefit lobster fishers are now available on the Dept of Fisheries website.