SA 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 South Australia.


The key economic development agency within the South Australian government is the Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA). The PIRSA Fisheries Division is responsible for providing information and fisheries advice, management and planning, licencing and permits, and services to ensure compliance of recreation and commercial fishing legislation.


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

Recreational Fishing in SA

Recreational fishing licences are not required for anglers using a rod, handline or other permitted fishing devices in South Australia. Although, like the other states throughout the country, minimum (and sometimes maximum) size and bag limits do apply. As well as personal daily bag limits, there is also a focus on daily boat limits.

Protected Species

There are four levels where aquatic species are protected in South Australia and this includes:
  • Protected at all times

  • During certain stages of their life cycle (e.g. during spawning)

  • During certain time of the year

  • Closed areas or Marine Reserves
If by any chance a protected species is caught accidently, they must be carefully and immediately returned to the water as this will maximize their chances of survival. All marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales are protected at all times in South Australian waters. Heavy fines will be enforced on any person who takes or causes harm to a protected species or protected marine mammals. For a full list of protected freshwater and saltwater species, click Protected Species

Bag Limit and Possession Limit

This includes the minimum (and sometimes maximum) legal length, the personal daily bag limit and the daily boat limit. The main purpose for limiting the number of fish to be taken in any 24 hour period is to have enough fish for spawning. Other important purposes for bag limits are needed so anglers all get a reasonable share of the available resource and for policing illegal fish selling and trading activities.

Legal size limits are imposed to ensure all fish of a certain species reach sexual maturity and to have at least one opportunity to breed. It is important to note that fish taken for using as bait must still conform to size limits specified for the species. The various size and bag limits imposed on aquatic species are listed in a very comprehensive table on the PIRSA Fisheries website, including seasonal closures. Click for Catch Limits & Legal Lengths

Fishing Closures

South Australia has 15 aquatic reserves where fishing and other activities may be prohibited or restricted. These closures are usually enforced because the area is used as a spawning ground for migratory fish or a traditional nursery which has optimum conditions for juvenile species to grow in relative safety. These habitats may have permanent closures or temporary closure during certain times of the year. Any species caught during the closure period must be returned to the water immediately. Click for a list of Closed Areas or Seasonal Closures

Please also note that it’s illegal to remove any bottom dwelling species from any intertidal reefs in South Australia. These reefs are the rocky areas on the coastline that extends up to the high tide mark and is the habitat for various bottom dwelling species, based on tidal influences.

Murray River

The ‘Mighty’ Murray River and all its lagoons and creeks are controlled by the Fisheries Act 1982, except when the water is landlocked on private property. Fishing is permitted, although there may be limits on the size of the fish and/or the number of fish taken from Murray River. There are also important rules that must be followed in regards to protected species such as Blackfish, Catfish, Murray Cod, Silver Perch and Trout Cod. As their status is protected, they must be carefully and immediately released back into the river, with heavy fines enforced on any person who takes or causes harm to them. Rules in regard to noxious species in the Murray River such as Redfin, European Carp and Mosquito fish are an introduced species and must not be returned to the water alive. Click for a list of Murray River Catch Limits & Lengths

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