WA 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 Western Australia.

NEW Fishing Regulations in WA

A number of general licensing changes will has come into effect since 2 March 2010, including a State-wide Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) and a new fee structure for existing recreational fishing licences.

It's important to remember that from 2 March 2010, an RFBL is required to undertake any general fishing activity conducted with the use of a powered boat anywhere in the State. If you don't hold an RFBL, you can still go fishing provided you are in the company of someone who holds an RFBL and you stay within that person's bag limit.

As a recreational fisher, your licence fee will go directly to the research and management of Western Australia's recreational fisheries and that's a significant step towards a sustainable industry.

Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence

A Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence is required to undertake any general fishing activity conducted with the use of a powered vessel anywhere in the State. A Recreational Fishing from a Boat Licence will not be required to fish from un-powered vessels, such as kayaks, nor will it be required where an existing licence fishing activity is the only activity undertaken.

Any fisher not holding a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence will be allowed to fish from a boat in the company of a licensed boat fisher within the licensed fisher's bag limit.

For more information on the NEW fishing regulations, please click: Changes To Recreational Fishing Licences

West Coast Bioregion Closures

Stocks of some of Western Australia’s most prized demersal (bottom-dwelling) scalefish like dhufish and pink snapper are known to be at critically low levels in the West Coast Bioregion (Kalbarri to Augusta). To help demersal scalefish stocks recover and be sustainable for the future, a total ban on the take of ‘high risk’ demersal fish by recreational fishers in the West Coast Bioregion applies from 15 October to 15 December, inclusive. A list of the high risk demersal species to which the two-month ban applies in the West Coast Bioregion is contained in the Department of Fisheries website.

For further information, please visit: Department of Fisheries Western Australia or contact
the Department of Fisheries on 1800 726 586.

(Note: Commercial fishers are under separate arrangements to reduce their catch of these species). Please act responsibly and do your bit to ensure we all have fish for the future.

Key dates for the West Coast Bioregion fishery

15 October

  • Start of the two-month seasonal closure (for boat and shore fishing) on
    the take of ‘high risk’ demersal species such as dhufish and pink snapper by recreational fishers;

  • Change to the combined bag limit for ‘medium risk’ fish – including tailor, silver trevally (skippy) and King George whiting – from 16 to 12;
  • and
  • Change to the combined bag limit for ‘lowest risk’ species – including herring, sand whiting and garfish – from 40 to 30.

16 December

From 16 December, new bag and boat limits will come into place for ‘high risk’ species. These measures include:
  • The high risk category split into demersal scalefish and pelagic species;

  • A mixed bag limit of 2 high risk demersal scalefish, of which only 1 (one) may be a dhufish (see table for details);

  • A mixed bag limit of 2 pelagic species;

  • A boat limit of 2 dhufish (6 dhufish on charter vessels);

  • Removal of the existing boat limits for high risk species;

  • A requirement to carry a release weight when fishing from a boat for demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion;

  • Removal of the maximum size for grey banded rock cod;

  • New pink snapper size limit of 50 cm applies south of Lancelin; and

  • Some high risk species moved to the medium risk category.
The seasonal closure (15 October to 15 December) will apply to the species contained in the table. When the fishery reopens on 16 December the new bag limits listed in the table will apply.

Department of Fisheries WA

Western Australia has a coastline stretching more than twelve thousand kilometres featuring many marine parks, bays, estuaries, islands, coral reefs, beaches and cliffs. The Department of Fisheries, Western Australia is responsible for managing the State’s fish, marine and aquatic resources to world-class standards and to conserve, develop and share these resources for future generations.


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

Recreational Fishing in WA

From 1 February, 2013 new recreational fishing rules apply across the whole of Western Australia. However some exceptions (for some species and some locations) still apply.

The new rules, covered in our Statewide Recreational fishing guide 2013, are easier to follow and will help to improve your recreational fishing experience. This single guide replaces the four current regional guides.

With more than 12,800 km of coastline, along with numerous estuarine and inland water bodies, there are still some different rules for specific areas, species and different types of fishing activity.

If you target specific species it is important to be aware of the rules around them as well.

Also check this link for all information on Recreational fishing licences.

Protected Species

There are several aquatic species that are protected within Western Australian waters and these include the potato cod, hump headed wrasse, leafy sea dragon and all cods over 1.2m in length. If any of these protected species are accidently caught, they must be carefully and immediately returned to the water.

Bag Limit and Possession Limit

The daily bag limit is the total amount of fish of a certain species or group of species that that an individual angler can catch and keep in a 24 hour period. It is one of the key tools for managing recreational fishing for biological and social reasons including conserving fish stocks and protecting threatened or vulnerable species.

The other measurement is the possession limit which includes the maximum quantity of fish that a person is allowed to possess at any time. This measure is used to discourage excessive catches by recreational fishers from accumulating commercial quantities of fish and which may be intended for illegal fish sales. Usually this is the total weight of fish fillets or pieces of fish. For saltwater species in some states, the daily bag limit is the possession limit.

Generally, in Western Australia, the possession limit is a measurement that prevents excessive catches by individuals on a fishing trip. In the recreation fishing guide, it states that a person may have a maximum of either:
  • 20kg of fillets or pieces of fish

  • 10kg of fillets or pieces of fish plus one day’s bag limit of whole fish;

  • Two days’ bag limit of whole fish or fish ‘trunks’. A 'trunk' is defined as a fish with its head and tail removed
These limits apply only to finfish and exclude baitfish. Although the possession limits apply throughout Western Australia, they do not apply in your permanent place of residence (unless you live within a Marine Park such as Ningaloo Marine Park Land Zone).

Threatened Species - Risk Categories

In the recreational fishing guide, there are 3 risk categories based on factors such as fish vulnerability, maturity age and abundance. These risk categories are:
  • Category One - this is the highest risk because species are generally long-lived, slow to grow and highly targeted. The guide states you must only have a mixed daily bag of 7 per angler. Fish listed in this category include Spanish Mackerel and Mulloway (both with individual bag limits of only two)

  • Category Two - this is a medium risk category because species are of moderate abundance and generally mature at two to three years. The guide states you must only have a mixed daily bag of 16 per angler. Fish listed in this category include King George Whiting and Bonito (both with individual bag limits of only eight)

  • Category Three - this is the lowest risk because species are of high abundance and are generally not targeted by anglers. The guide states you must only have a mixed daily bag of 40 per angler. Fish listed in this category include Australian herring, Mullet and Garfish (no size limits or bag limits apply for these fish species)
Please refer to the recreation fishing guide for the relevant region to find out more information regarding minimum bag limits and minimum size limits. Click for Recreational Fishing - Rules and Licences in Western Australia

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Created: May 2008
Revised: October 2013
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