Fishing Licences in Australia
In Australia, we've got it pretty good when it comes to fishing. With world-class game fishing, endless coastlines for beach or rock fishing, and our huge array of freshwater and inland waterways - we couldn't ask for much more.
There are regulations in place though, and it's important to observe them to ensure our amazing fisheries are enjoyed responsibly now as well as maintained for future generations - not to mention the fines you can cop if you ignore them. Recreational fishing rules and regulations vary from state to state and, as a fisho (or aspiring fisho), it's your job to understand whether you need a licence, what your bag and size limits are, as well as when and where you're permitted to fish.
A fishing licence is simply a permit you need to purchase and carry on you while you're fishing (don't worry, you won't be tested on your casting techniques or knowledge of local marine species before they hand it over!). Fishing licences are good for fishos and the environment alike. The money you pay for your fishing licence goes back into maintaining our waterways, piers and jetties, fish stocking programs and more - which in turn provides a better fishing experience for Aussie fishos and helps make sure our fish populations stay healthy for many years to come.
South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory don't require a fishing licence for recreational fishing. Queensland doesn't require a fishing licence, however, they do require fishing permits in some stocked impoundments, you can find a full list of these waterways here. However, all other states do require a licence for the entire state, certain waterways within the state, if you're targeting certain species and whether you're using a rod and reel, fishing net or spearfishing gear.
Licensing is enforced, so it pays to do your homework and get the right licence before you hit the water. A random check of your licence at a boat, pier or river is going to see your catch confiscated and fines issued if you're not licenced - and that's no one's idea of a good time. If you're travelling, you'll need to meet the requirements of every state you plan to fish in so let's break it down and take a look at what's required (and what's on offer) state by state.
New South Wales
Home to fishing meccas like Port Stephens and Merimbula, New South Wales arguably has some of the best fishing spots anywhere in the country.
You'll need a fishing licence in NSW whether you're hitting freshwater or saltwater and you're also required to carry it with you while you're fishing. Bear in mind that this doesn't just apply to fishing with a rod and reel - spearfishing, hand lining, hand gathering, trapping (crab pots etc.), bait collecting, netting and being in possession of fishing gear on or nearby waters, all require a licence.
You can buy a fishing licence online, and at many bait and tackle shops around the state.
No matter what kind of fishing you're into, Victoria has something for everyone. From calm bays perfect for land-based or offshore fishing to a huge array of regularly stocked freshwater fisheries, Victoria is pretty darn close to a fishos paradise.
Licensing is fairly straightforward in Victoria. Basically, if you're going to fish, you will need a licence (unless you're under 18, over 70, or identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) - and that goes for all Victorian waters. Licences can be bought online from Service Victoria for periods of three days, 28 days, one year or three years.
The range of fishing opportunities Western Australia offers is absolutely mind-blowing, from Broome to Exmouth, the fishing is phenomenal.
Licensing requirements in WA are a little more complex than many other states, which makes sense when you consider the huge range of fishing options the state offers and the massive geographical diversity it covers. For most land-based saltwater fishing (with a rod and reel) a licence isn't required. But if you're using a boat, netting, freshwater fishing or on the hunt for rock lobster, abalone, or marron you'll need a specific licence for each activity.
While bag and size limits for the most commonly targeted species are the same throughout Western Australia, the state has also been divided into 'bioregions' with different rules and regulations. Head to WA fisheries for a detailed breakdown of the rules or to get yourself a licence.
Tasmania's central highlands boast some of the best trout fishing Australia has to offer, and the fishing's not half bad off the coast either!
If saltwater is your playground of choice - either land-based or offshore - you won't need a licence in Tassie provided you stick to fishing with a rod and reel. On the other hand, if you're targeting rock lobster, abalone, scallops or using a set line or a net you do need to be licensed. Fishing licences for Tasmania are available online from the Tassie government's primary industries website.
There's a reason Australia is legendary for its fantastic fishing. With thousands of kilometres of coastline heaving with fish and inland waterways boating pristine lakes, rolling rivers and alpine streams that are second to none - wherever you're heading in Australia, you can almost guarantee there'll be at least a couple of world-class fishing options within a stones' throw.
Wherever you decide to drop a line in, remember to fish responsibly and sustainably - take only what you need and make sure you're aware of size and bag limits as well as seasonal closures and guidelines.
Fishing licences are in place to help make sure our waterways and fish populations stay healthy and strong for years to come - both for the environment and for fishos. By making sure you have a current licence and observing the rules and regulations, you're doing your bit to make sure our Aussie fisheries remain world class now and into the future.