NT 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 the Northern Territory.


The Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines (DPIFM) ensure the most efficient use of the Territory’s fisheries, primary industries, and mineral and energy resources. The Fisheries sector works in conjunction with commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as with indigenous communities to achieve optimum and sustainable use of the Territory’s aquatic resources.


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

Recreational Fishing in NT

An angler does not need a licence to recreationally fish in Northern Territory waters, however, anglers do need a temporary licence for recreational fishing on and over Aboriginal granted lands and adjoining waters. Any enquiries regarding recreational fishing on Aboriginal lands and adjoining waters should be directed to the Northern Land Council (NLC) by phoning 1800 645 299.

There are many rules and regulations in place to keep recreational fishing standards at a high level. Many are outlined on the DPIFM website and in the NT Recreational Fishing Controls guidebook which can be downloaded in the PDF format. Specific queries regarding recreational fishing and crabbing can be obtained by the Department's Recreational Fishing Unit by phoning (08) 8999 2372.

Protected Species

An angler must not take cod, groper or any other fish from the genus Epinephelus if the fish is more than 1.2 metres long. Large cods are slow inquisitive creatures and would prove to be an easy catch for fishers and spearfishers. This is one of the main reasons why they are totally protected. Cods are very vulnerable when they reach a large size at a time when they are most needed for the breeding population.

Possession Limit and Fishing Closures

In the Northern Territory, a possession limit is the very maximum number of fish that each person is allowed to have in possession at any one time (other than in their place of permanent residence). This limit is not a boat limit, a trip limit or a daily limit.

As listed in the NT Fisheries Recreation Controls guidebook, there is a great section called ‘Managed Species’ that outlines possession limits on individual species. It also provides fish size rules and specifies areas where fish can be taken, including area possession limits. For more information, please click the NT Recreational Fishing Controls guidebook.

Noxious and Aquatic Pests

These pest species can threaten a broad range of fishing related activities such as aquaculture, recreation and commercial fisheries. Some of these pests include Mosquito fish and Tilapia which is listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst introduced species. For more information, please click Aquatic Pest Management

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