Rock lobster build-up for East Coast
MORE than 100,000 rock lobsters will be moved from Tasmania’s South-West to the East Coast to restore depleted stocks and combat a destructive sea urchin.
The State Government will fund another four years of the East Coast Rock Lobster Translocation Program at $75,000 a year.
Announcing the program extension yesterday, Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said: “The numbers have been down [on the East Coast], so it’s important to ensure there’s adequate numbers and you build that up over a period of time.”
Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association chief executive John Sansom said stocks on the East Coast had suffered because it was a popular and accessible fishing spot.
And depleted stocks were partly to blame for an increase in the population of the long spine sea urchin. Rock lobsters eat the pest, which destroys kelp beds, seriously threatens marine life and has doubled in population on the East Coast in the past 15 years.
TARFish chief executive Mark Nikolai said the past three years of the program had led to a noticeable increase in the number of rock lobsters on the state’s East Coast after catches had almost halved in the past 10 to 15 years.
His body, representing recreational marine fishers, also wants the State Government to open more areas of the state for marine fishing to prevent the same problem happening again.
“We’ve long advocated that much smaller, finer area scale management needs to be put in place, which is basically increasing the number of zones around the state and managing them at that zonal level rather than just an eastern and a western [zone],” Mr Nikolai said.
Yesterday marked the opening of the East Coast stock rebuilding zone for recreational fishers.
Commercial fishers will be able to work in the area on Tuesday.