Indigenous netting activities permit - Queensland


Rules for indigenous fishers recognise the important cultural role fishing plays for many communities. They also acknowledge the need to protect fish stocks for future generations.

Rules introduced on 6 October 2008 provide a balance between fisheries sustainability and indigenous traditional fishing rights.

Indigenous people can possess commercial fishing nets which are up to 80 m long and 50 mm-215 mm (2 inch-8.25 inch) mesh size. However, the use of commercial fishing nets without an authority is prohibited under the Fisheries Act 1994.

Recreational fishing nets that can be used without an authority are:

  • cast nets no longer than 3.7 m with a mesh size of no more than 28 mm
  • seine nets no longer than 16 m, drop no more than 3 m, mesh size no more than 28 mm, do not contain a pocket and are not fixed.

For further information on the type of apparatus permitted, see the Recreational fishing rules and regulations for Queensland - a brief guide. A copy of this guide can be found at certain bait and tackle stores.

In addition to recreational fishing apparatus, fish traps can be used by indigenous people to catch fish. Fish traps are defined as a structure made predominantly from stone or organic material that creates a holding area designed to capture a small quantity of fish.

Fisheries Queensland will work with indigenous communities to define other types of apparatus as necessary.

Gender limits, size limits, possession limits and season closures do not apply to indigenous people who are fishing in their traditionally owned waters or in waters where they have obtained permission from the traditional owners. Waters which are closed to all forms of fishing (commercial, recreational and Indigenous) for sustainability reasons are:

  • Coombabah Lake and Coombabah Creek
  • Fitzroy River 400 m downstream of the barrage
  • Swan Bay, North Stradbroke Island
  • Keppel Bay within 150 m radius of Middle Island underwater Observatory
  • Wolf Rock (east of Double Island Point)
  • Hook Island within 100 m radius of Observatory
  • Mary River 400 m downstream of the barrage
  • Yanks Jetty at Orpheus Island-under or within 100 m of jetty
  • Tinana Creek 400 m downstream of the barrage
  • Centenary Lakes, Cairns
  • Burnett River 400 m downstream of the barrage
  • Barron River at Barron Waters (near Stony Creek and junction of Camp Oven Creek)
  • Kolan River 400 m downstream of the barrage
  • Bizant River, Princess Charlotte Bay-including German Bar Lagoon and 2 km downstream of German Bar

Service type


A licence defines the need to obtain recognition / certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.


Fees Details for this service in table format.

Task Type Business Structure Description
General Licence All

Queensland commercial fishing fees

Other resources

Application process

Indigenous people wanting to use a commercial sized net to take fish for a ceremionial or traditional event, must apply for a General Fisheries Permit (an authority). You can apply for this permit by submitting the completed application to Fisheries Queensland. Please note that a commercial sized net can only be used for indigenous purposes if application form and requirements as set out below are fully completed and a permit is subsequently issued.

The following information must be supplied in your application:

  • traditional owner group to which the applicant belongs
  • number of nets to be used
  • location where nets will be used
  • dates when the nets will be used
  • the nature of the cultural or ceremonial event that requires the use of a commercial net and the number of people attending the event
  • proof of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage (e.g. letter of confirmation obtained from an incorporated indigenous organisation and stamped with their common seal. Note: this is required for the first application only)
  • written support from the traditional owners of the area supporting the use of the nets.

Transfer process

You cannot transfer this permit.

Additional information

Permit conditions are designed to ensure the nets do not pose a hazard to boating and to ensure the nets are not used in a way that threatens the sustainability of fish stocks. The following conditions will be attached to General Fisheries Permits for Indigenous netting:

  • the nets must not be used to take species protected under other legislation (e.g. turtle and dugong.)
  • the permit holder must be in attendance (in attendance means within 100 m and on or in the water) of each net that is being used at all times.

The nets:

  • may be set (anchoring or fixing the net to a place at both ends)
  • must be clearly marked with the permit holders name, address and permit number on a white float at least 15 cm in all its dimensions
  • must not be placed across the width of creeks or rivers, navigation channels or any other areas where the placement of the net would make more than one half of the waterway impassable to a boat or fish
  • must not be joined together
  • if used by day, must be marked by light coloured floats no more than 15 m apart along its length; and if used by night, must also be marked by a white light at both ends of the net which is visible for at least 400 m in all directions
  • The holder, or an indigenous person of the traditional owner group acting under the direction of the permit holder, must not allow any part of the net containing a fish to be out of the water other than to immediately remove the fish from the net.
  • Fish collected during the activity must not be sold.
  • The permit must be available for immediate inspection by an officer authorized under the Fisheries Act 1994 (e.g. a Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officer) during netting activities.

Administering agency

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Fisheries Queensland

Licensing and Fisheries Information

Contact details

Contact Email, Phone and Address Details for this service in simple two column table format, header then data.

Please use these contact details for help or more information:

Customer Service Centre

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Phone: 07 3404 6999
Phone: 13 25 23
Website: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Customer Service Centre (Opens in new window)