NSW Fishing Rules

Fishing in Australian salt and fresh waters is governed by state rules and regulations and must be strictly followed as these laws are in place to ensure fisheries are ecologically sustainable. This guide touches on the rules and regulations for recreational fishing in New South Wales.


The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) was formed in July 2004 with the amalgamation of several sectors including NSW Fisheries. Within the DPI is the Fisheries, Compliance and Regional Relations Division which manages the sustainable, commercial and recreational use of NSW fisheries’ resources. In regard to recreational fishing, this is managed by a branch within this division called Wild Harvest Fisheries.


Please use this article as a guide only and take the time to find out more about recreational fishing rules and regulations in New South Wales.

Recreational Fishing in NSW

You must obtain a recreational fishing licence if you wish to fish in fresh or saltwater anywhere in New South Wales. You are required by law to pay the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee and carry a receipt showing the payment of the fee. These fees are outlined below:
  • Three day recreational fishing licence is $7.00

  • One month recreational fishing licence is $14.00

  • One year recreational fishing licence is $35.00

  • Three year recreational fishing licence is $85.00
These fees apply for spear fishing, hand lining, hand gathering, trapping, bait collecting and prawn netting or when in possession of fishing gear in, on or adjacent to waters. For more information, click Recreational fishing licence fee

Protected and Threatened Species

There are several protected and threatened species in NSW, meaning if you catch one, they must be immediately released unharmed to the water. There include: estuary cod, black cod, giant Queensland grouper, elegant wrasse and grey nurse shark to name a few.

Bag Limit and Possession Limit

The daily bag limit is the maximum number of fish that an individual angler can catch in a single day and have in their possession. Bag limits vary depending on the species of fish. Click here for Bag and size limits - saltwater

If the fish is not included in the bag and size limit tables, then a maximum daily bag limit of 20 applies. This table also shows the size limits, which are considered as the total length measurement of a fish, whether it is fork-tailed or round tailed, is taken from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. In regard to possession limits; for all saltwater species, the daily bag limit is the possession limit and it applies to all areas of the state.

Fishing Closures

Local NSW DPI Fisheries Offices should be contacted for the latest fishing closure information for specific locations. There is a comprehensive list of local saltwater and freshwater closures. Click here for Fishing closures and restrictions

More Fishing Rules

When it comes to line fishing, there are a number of important rules in place that must be followed.
These include having no more than 4 rods or lines to be used or set by any one person at any one time. Others rules for line fishing include:
  • No more than 3 hooks or 3 gangs of hooks attached per line (a gang of hooks should have no more than 5 hooks)

  • One line may have 6 single hooks with lure attached to be used by the method of hand jigging only

  • No more than 3 treble hooks attached to a lure

  • Jagging is illegal (hooking, or attempting to hook, fish other than through the mouth)

  • Drift lines are banned
There are some activities in regards to recreational fishing that are deemed illegal. Some of these activities include keeping prohibited size fish and selling recreational catches. Please be aware that there are many more rules and regulations designed to protect fish stocks in NSW.

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Created: May 2008
Revised: February 2015
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