crayfishCoastal waters are warming up ahead of the recreational rock lobster season re-opening on 16 November.

Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) CEO Travis Dowling said thousands of keen divers would be checking wetsuits, fins, masks and equipment in the countdown to opening so they would be ready to hit the water.

“Amongst preparations, we are encouraging divers and fishers to familiarise themselves with new rock lobster fishing rules introduced in July,” Mr Dowling said.

“The major change is a requirement to tag all recreationally caught rock lobsters with free tags available from the VFA.

“The tagging program commenced on 1 July 2017 and is off to a great start with over 1600 fishers registered and 26,000 tags sent out.

“Tagging all lobsters will help estimate the total recreational catch and will ensure the sustainable management of lobster stocks into the future, which is important for a priority species so highly valued by the community.”

Mr Dowling said the VFA was not after the location of everyone’s favourite rock lobster ledges, but rather broad locational information that would enable them to map recreational harvest at various scales and model the overall health of rock lobster stocks.

“Victoria is the first state in Australia to trial this innovative tagging approach.

“Recreational fishers and divers can order up to 20 tags at a time, which must be attached to each and every rock lobster they keep.

“There is no limit to the number of tags people can order in a year, although fishers must report the use of tags via the VicRLTag smartphone app or the website (vic.gov.au/lobstertag) before a second order can be fulfilled in 5-7 business days by mail.

“For convenience, tags are also available for free over the counter at departmental offices in Warrnambool, Queenscliff, Geelong, Traralgon and Lakes Entrance.”

Mr Dowling encouraged fishers to report the use of tags over the course of the season because that harvest information was critical to the success of the three year trial.

To order tags online, or learn more, visit vic.gov.au/lobstertag

There are no changes to bag or possession limits for rock lobsters, or to existing tail fin clipping requirements.