Giant Lobsters see red!
The Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi) is the largest freshwater invertebrate on Earth. There are records of specimens reaching more than five kilograms in weight and over 80cm in length, although 2 to 3kg is now considered large. The spiny Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster is blue to brown in colour and is only found in northern Tasmania, in rivers and creeks that flow into Bass Strait. Overfishing and habitat loss have seen the species decline over the last 40 years and it is now listed as nationally vulnerable. A total ban on fishing for this species was introduced in January 1998, but it needs more help to ensure its survival. By effectively managing Tasmanian freshwater ecosystems other aquatic species will also benefit.
The original distribution of the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster extended from the Arthur River in Tasmania's north-west across the north of the state to include all rivers flowing into the Bass Strait (except the Tamar catchment). Today localised extinctions or declining numbers within many rivers has resulted in its patchy distribution.
Lobsters are found in flowing and still waters, with adults living in still, deep pools, sheltered beneath submerged logs and overhanging banks. They like well-shaded, clean streams and cooler temperatures
The Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster is a slow-growing, large-sized lobster. Not only is it easily caught but it also has a slow reproductive rate. Few people would realise it takes male and female lobsters nine to 14 years respectively to reach sexual maturity. Over-fishing has resulted in the removal of breeding sized lobsters, posing a serious threat to their survival. Despite a fishing ban in place since January 1998, ongoing commitment is needed to protect the Giant Freshwater lLobster from illegal fishing and from habitat destruction due to agricultural expansion, forestry operations and changes in water quality.
Waterwatch, Landcare and catchment management groups, in partnership with Inland Fisheries Service Tasmania and various government departments are all working together to ensure that populations of the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster recover sufficiently to be taken off the vulnerable list. Activities include enforcement of the fishing ban, population and research surveys and habitat protection on private land. Better management of riverbank vegetation benefits the health of waterways and all the species that live in them. A crucial aspect of the recovery of the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster is ongoing community education and action.
You can help by:
- not fishing for Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobsters and reporting any illegal fishing
- protecting remnant bush in your community or on your land to help provide habitat for all our native animals, including the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster.
- supporting local efforts to conserve threatened species in your area by joining a local organisation such as Waterwatch or catchment management group, Landcare, natural history or a 'friends of' group or by volunteering for Green Corps or the Australian Trust for Volunteers;
- participating in special community events, information nights, tree planting days and weed eradication programs.
To find out more about saving your state's threatened species check out the Threatened Species Network web site .
You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772.