We ran into a crab trap line yesterday. The buoy was about the size of a ping pong ball and was difficult to see. There was a line of these traps with small buoys between the oyster lease and the shore and they were in the zone where a lot of people take their boats when the tide is low. We were lucky to avoid a rope wrapped around our propellor.
A fishing licence is required to use a crab trap. There is a limit of two crab traps or 4 hoop nets/witches hats per licenced person. The following rules are a direct quote from the NSW Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide.
Not more than 4 nets are to be used (or in possession) by any one person at any one time.
1 or 2 hoops per net (no rigid frame between them).
Diameter of hoops should be no greater than 1.25 metres.
Mesh size cannot be less than 13mm measured across the diagonal.
Drop (length of net) should be no more than 1 metre.
A float/ buoy to be labelled with HN, initial and surname, year of birth (YOB) and postcode of the person who sets, uses or lifts the fishing gear. The minimum height of the float being at least 50mm above the water with all letters to be a minimum of 15mm and in a colour contrasting to the buoy.
The float/ buoy must measure not less than 100mm in all dimensions.
Hoop nets or lift nets must not have any rope floating on the surface of the water.
The net must be dropped and raised vertically through the water by hand.
The net must not be used in ocean waters.
Any rock lobsters or fin-fish (which are subject to a size limit) must be immediately returned to the water unharmed if caught.
Do not set gear in areas of high boat traffic or navigation channels.
It should be noted that the buoy needs to be no less than 100mm in all directions. This is to give boat skippers a good chance to see the trap. Also, the traps should not be set in areas of high boat traffic, or as in this case, in line with a navigation channel through the oyster lease. Please make sure that your visitors are aware of the rules.