National Resources

Commercial fishing in Tasmania

Commercial fishing is an important part of Tasmania's history.

In Tasmania, commercial fishing is an important part of our history as well as a source of food and income for many coastal communities. The Tasmanian commercial fishing industry supplies around 26 per cent of Australian seafood, and seafood constitutes one third of Tasmania's agricultural products.

To be a commercial fisher, you need to have special licences from the government and there are many rules you need to follow. These are rules about where you can fish, what kinds of fish you can catch, how big they are, what time of the year you can catch them as well as the total amount of fish you can catch every year. Rules about fishing are there to protect the environment and to make sure that there will be plenty of fish for future generations to enjoy.

The main fishing ports in Tasmania are Hobart, Margate, St Helens, Devonport and Stanley. Other fishing ports are Bicheno, Strahan and Dover. In Tasmania in 2007/2008, the gross value of fisheries production for wild-catch fisheries was $156.7 million and for aquaculture it was almost $319 million dollars.

Because there are so many different kinds of fish, there are many different kinds of fishing. Fish are caught in different ways and in different places, depending on where they live and how they behave. Some fish, like flathead, live near (or on) the bottom of the ocean, others like Australian salmon move around in schools in the middle of the water column or near the surface. Some fish live near to the coast in the open ocean or in bays and some fish live a long way off the coast. Fish can live mostly by themselves, or hang around in big schools and either stay in the same area or travel all over the world!

Commercial rock lobster fishers use craypots which have smelly bait inside them that attracts the rock lobster to the pot. The lobsters crawl inside the craypot and get stuck! Rock lobster fishers travel all around the coast of Tasmania to catch lobsters. These lobsters may be caught close to shore or in the deeper ocean up to 20 nautical miles offshore. Although they are the same species, rock lobster caught in deep water are usually very pale and not the deep red colour of the shallow water lobsters.
Abalone are a type of mollusc and are collected by divers off rocks close to the coast. They are very valuable and a lot of Tasmanian caught abalone are exported to Japan, where they are considered a delicacy.

Some divers also collect sea urchins, periwinkles, cockles and native oysters and a few divers even collect some kinds of seaweed which are used to produce pharmaceuticals. Scallops are harvested from sandy ocean areas, sometimes near the coast and sometimes further offshore. A metal harvester is towed along the seafloor and the scallops are collected.

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