"Crayfish are crustaceans found all over Australia in both fresh and salt waters."
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, 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 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.
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.
|LOCATION||LOCATION CRAYFISH/ROCK LOBSTER||SIZE (mm)||BAG LIMIT (per person)||POSSESSION LIMIT (per boat/residence)|
|NSW||Eastern Rock||104mm - 180mm max||2||2|
|NSW||Southern Rock (male)||110mm||2||2|
|NSW||Southern Rock (female)||105mm||2||2|
|NSW||Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)||No size limit||2||2|
|NSW||Slipper||No size limit||2||2|
|WA (Gascoyne)||Southern Rock||98.5mm||8||16|
|WA (Gascoyne)||Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)||76mm||8||16|
|WA (Gascoyne)||Western Rock||76mm||8||16|
|WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)||Southern Rock||98.5mm||4||8|
|WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)||Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)||76mm||4||8|
|WA (Exmouth/Ningaloo)||Western Rock||76mm||4||8|
|WA (North Coast)||Southern Rock||98.5mm||4||8|
|WA (North Coast)||Tropical Rock (ornate & painted)||76mm||2 (4 combined species - 2 ornate only)||8 (combined species - 4 ornate & 4 western only)|
|WA (North Coast)||Western Rock||76mm||2 (4 combined species - 2 western only)||8 (combined species - 4 ornate & 4 western only)|
|WA (South Coast)||Southern Rock||98.5mm||8||16|
|WA (South Coast)||Western Rock||76mm||8||16|
|WA (West Coast)||Western Rock||76mm||8||24|
|SA (Southern Zone)||Southern Rock||98.5mm||4||8 (if 2 fishermen)|
|SA (Northern Zone)||Southern Rock||105mm||4||8 (if 2 fishermen)|
|VIC||Southern Rock (male)||110mm||2||4|
|VIC||Southern Rock (female)||105mm||2||4|
|NT||Tropical Rock (painted cray)||No limit (no underwater breathing apparatus permitted)||10||30 (if 3 fishermen)|
|QLD||Tropical Rock (painted cray)||90mm (carapace) 115mm tail minimum||Above 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|
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
Ph: (08) 9482 7333
Website: WA Fisheries
Ph: (08) 8204 1380
Website: SA Fisheries
Ph: 13 61 86
Website: VIC Fisheries
Ph: (08) 8999 2144
Website: NT Fisheries
Ph: 13 25 23
Website: QLD Fisheries