"Crayfish are crustaceans found all over Australia in both fresh and salt waters."

Freshwater Crays

Freshwater Crays have hundreds of different species and inhabit streams, rivers, dams and lakes. They vary in colour and size, generally ranging between 2.5cm and 40cm in length. The most common species are Yabbies, Marron and the Murray Crayfish. The Tasmanian Giant Cray is the largest in the world, growing up to 40cm. Unlike the saltwater species, the freshwater crays have a pair of claws at the front which are used for food scavenging, burrow digging and protection.

Saltwater Crays

Saltwater Crays, are actually called Rock Lobsters, however most people (including us) still refer to them as Crayfish. They have a tough, spiny carapace (body) with 5 pairs of legs, however no claws. They live in reefs and caves, hiding in crevices, in offshore waters. There are 12 different species in Australia and most live in northern waters, however, commercial fishing is concentrated in southern waters. The two main species fished commercially are the Western Rock Lobster and Southern Rock Lobster, which are red in colour and grow up to 45-50cm in length. Also fished and sold commercially are the Painted Rock Lobsters found in tropical waters in northern Australia. They are a very attractive species with black and white stripes and markings over their blue-green bodies.

Recreational Fishing

Recreational Rock Lobster/Crayfishing has strict rules and regulations and varying seasons throughout the country. Rock Lobster fishing licences are required and can be obtained through state fisheries departments and on their websites. Some states have prohibited fishing areas and rules are subject to change so it is highly advisable to check the current laws before proceeding to fish.

Rules & Regulations

Bag and size limits apply and also vary between states and species. Berried females (with sponge-like eggs under the tail) are prohibited from taking anywhere and size requirements differ between sexes. To determine the sex you need to check the underside of the tail. Females have large flaps (or swimmers) at the end of the tail and small rear nippers. Males have small flaps and no rear nippers.

Measuring a cray requires using the correct gauge and you must measure from the notch between the front antennas on its head to the rear of the carapace. If the gauge goes beyond the end of the carapace the catch is undersized and must be returned immediately.

All of your sized catches must be marked virtually straight away and before returning to shore. This is done by cutting the central tail flap away or by marking it with a 10mm hole in the central flap. The reason being you cannot sell recreational caught crays, commercial caught only.

Fishing apparatus include pots and rings by boat and divers taking by hand with a snare or crook. Different licences can apply to various fishing methods in some states.

Bag and possession limits apply to the combined catch in total and are subject to change by Fisheries.

NSWEastern Rock104mm - 180mm max22
NSWSouthern Rock (male)110mm22
NSWSouthern Rock (female)105mm22
NSWTropical Rock (ornate & painted)No size limit22
NSWSlipperNo size limit22
WA (Gascoyne)Southern Rock98.5mm816
WA (Gascoyne)Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)76mm816
WA (Gascoyne)Western Rock76mm816
WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)Southern Rock98.5mm48
WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)76mm48
WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)Western Rock76mm48
WA (North Coast)Southern Rock98.5mm48
WA (North Coast)Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)76mm2 (4 combined species - 2 ornate only)8 (combined species - 4 ornate & 4 western only)
WA (North Coast)Western Rock76mm2 (4 combined species - 2 western only)8 (combined species - 4 ornate & 4 western only)
WA (South Coast)Southern Rock98.5mm816
WA (South Coast)Western Rock76mm816
WA (West Coast)Western Rock76mm824
SA (Southern Zone)Southern Rock98.5mm48 (if 2 fishermen)
SA (Northern Zone)Southern Rock105mm48 (if 2 fishermen)
VICSouthern Rock (male)110mm24
VICSouthern Rock (female)105mm24
NTTropical Rock (painted cray)No limit (no underwater breathing apparatus permitted)1030 (if 3 fishermen)
QLDTropical Rock (painted cray)90mm (carapace) 115mm tail minimumAbove 14° south latitude: combined limit of 3 per person in total of all species. Below 14° south latitude: combined limit of 5 per person in total of all species Above 14° south latitude: combined limit of 6 per boat in total of all species. Below 14° south latitude: combined limit of 10 per boat in total of all species

State Fisheries Contact Details

For further information you can visit the following state fisheries websites or phone them directly.


Phone: 1300 368 550

Website: TAS Fisheries

New South Wales

Ph: (02) 9527 8411

Website: NSW Fisheries

Western Australia

Ph: (08) 9482 7333

Website: WA Fisheries

South Australia

Ph: (08) 8204 1380

Website: SA Fisheries


Ph: 13 61 86

Website: VIC Fisheries

Northern Territory

Ph: (08) 8999 2144

Website: NT Fisheries


Ph: 13 25 23

Website: QLD Fisheries

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