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Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities in Queensland and an important pastime on the Great Barrier Reef. 

Fishing is a source of income for Queensland coastal communities, and many residents and tourists go fishing for pleasure.

  • Zoning within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park allows for:
  • Line fishing in the General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones
  • Limited line fishing in a Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone (one hand-held rod or one hand-held line per person, with no more than one hook attached to that line)
  • Trolling in the General Use (Light Blue) Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones with limits on the number of lines and hooks per person
  • Trolling for pelagic species in the Buffer (Olive Green) Zone with limits on the number of lines and hooks per person.

Bait netting is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones.

Bait netting means using a net of dimension and mesh size as relevant Queensland fisheries legislation prescribes. For further detail, see the Great Barrier Reef Regulations 2019.

Crabbing (trapping) may be undertaken by recreational fishers using no more than four apparatus per person in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones.

Crabbing (trapping) uses apparatus such as crab pots, collapsible traps or dillies of the number and dimensions prescribed in Queensland fisheries legislation.

Please refer to the Queensland Government's Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004 for additional Queensland legislation for crabbing.

Limited spearfishing is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), and the Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones.

Limited spearfishing is permitted in Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones unless there is a Public Appreciation Special Management Area in place over that Zone.

These areas are shown as broken pink lines on the zoning maps, and no spearfishing is permitted within these areas.

See our spearfishing factsheets about where you are allowed to spearfish when visiting: the Far North, Cairns, the Whitsundays, and the Keppels.

Limited spearfishing means fishing with a spear or speargun, NOT using a powerhead, firearm, or a light or underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel.

  • Under Queensland fisheries legislation, additional spearfishing closures exist in the following General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:

  • On the western and southern foreshores of Great Keppel and North Keppel Island - these areas extend 400m from the coastline

  • The foreshores and waters seaward 50m from the low water mark from the boat ramp in Greys Bay around Cape Edgecumbe to the eastern headland of Horseshoe Bay

  • Visit the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website for more information on closed waters and spearfishing restrictions.

Plant-eating fish remove the seaweed that can grow quickly after corals bleach — fishers and spearfishers should leave these fish to help control seaweed and enable coral larvae to settle and create new colonies. 

Visit the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website for more information on closed waters and spearfishing restrictions. 

 

  • Find out more about how herbivores can help the Reef recover from coral bleaching:

  • Always track down injured fish; do not let them swim off injured.

  • Spear only what you need

  • Do not pursue a fish if you are unsure of its identity or size

  • Do not take big fish merely as trophies because these are important breeding stock

  • Do not take plant-eating fish

 

  • The spearfishing factsheets show you where you are allowed to spearfish in certain areas of the Marine Parks:

  • Going Spearfishing offshore Cooktown

  • Going Spearfishing in the Cairns Region

  • Going Spearfishing in the Whitsundays

  • Going Spearfishing in the Keppels

If you are visiting a General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) or Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone in the Marine Park, you may generally collect up to five shells, fish or invertebrates of any one species by hand or hand-held implement.

Collecting is not permitted in other zones. Please check zoning maps for the area you are visiting before collecting, together with limitations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019.

To collect greater numbers of species or to collect coral, you require a specific Marine Parks permit. There are some species of shells, fish and invertebrates that are protected and may not be collected.

You must not collect any coral (alive or dead) without a permit. On national park islands and within Commonwealth Island Zone everything is protected, including shells.

Terms and meaning 

  • Line Fishing: 
  • Fishing using not more than three hand-held rods or handlines per person with a combined number of not more than six hooks attached to the line(s).
  • Limited line fishing [applies in Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones only] - Fishing using not more than one hand-held rod or one handline, with no more than one hook attached to that line. Only 1 Dory detached from a commercial fishing vessel.

 

  • Other fishing apparatus is stowed or secured if the fishing apparatus is rendered inoperative, including that the apparatus is inboard the boat and otherwise completely out of the water:
  • Bait netting (recreational) uses a net (cast, scoop or seine) of dimension and mesh size as prescribed by relevant Queensland fisheries legislation for recreational use.
  • Bait netting (commercial) uses a net of dimension and mesh size as prescribed by relevant Queensland fisheries legislation (see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983).

 

 

  • Crabbing: 
  • Trapping - using apparatus such as crab pots, collapsible traps or dillies of the number and dimensions described in Queensland fisheries legislation.
  • Limited crabbing (trapping) - limited to four (4) catch apparatus per person, for example, crab pots or dillies.

 

  • Trolling: 
  • Fishing by means of a line or lines trailed behind a vessel that is underway (underway means a vessel propelled through the water in a forward direction [whether by engine, sail or human power] and is not adrift)  using not more than three lines per person and up to six hooks combined total per person.
  • Pelagic species (for trolling in Buffer Zones only): trevallies, scads, queenfish, rainbow runner, dolphinfish, black kingfish or cobia, barracudas, sailfishes, marlins, swordfish, mackerels, tunas, bonitos, wahoo, small toothed jobfish and green jobfish.

 

  • Spearfishing: 
  • Limited spearfishing - means fishing with a spear or speargun, not using a powerhead, firearm, light, or underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel.

 

  • Collecting: 
  • Limited collecting - the taking of shells, fish, crustaceans or other invertebrates, other than corals of the Classes Anthozoa and Hydrozoa, by hand or hand-held implement and subject to any limitations prescribed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.
  • Generally, no more than five (5) of any one species can be taken except when collecting bait or oysters for immediate consumption.

 

  • Dive-based or harvest fisheries: 
  • Fisheries such as the marine aquarium fish and coral collection fisheries take a variety of fish, soft and hard corals and other invertebrates.
  • They also include species-specific fisheries such as commercial sea cucumber, tropical rock lobster and trochus.
  • Species must be taken in accordance with Queensland fisheries legislation and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.
  • Harvest fisheries also include some bait collection fisheries, such as the beach worm fishery.

 

  • Hook - in addition to its ordinary meaning, a hook means:
  • a single-shanked double or treble hook
  • a lure (an artificial bat with no more than three hooks attached to it)
  • an artificial fly
  • a jig (for taking squid)
  • a bait jig (a hook or group of hooks consisting of no more than six hooks, each hook being of a size between number one and number 12 or their equivalent)
  • a ganged hook set (consisting of no more than six hooks which is in contact (by the point of one hook being threaded through the eye of another or joined by a swivel or wire) with a least one of the other hooks in the set, used to attach one piece of bait intended to catch only one fish)

 

  • Trawl fishing apparatus is stored and secured if it is rendered inoperative and
  • All nets are out of the water, or the fore end of the nets is drawn up to the booms
  • All otter boards are drawn up to the trawl blocks on the booms or are on inboard the vessel
  • All lazy lines are through the blocks
  • The cod ends are open
  • Other fishing apparatus is stowed or secured if the fishing apparatus is rendered inoperative, including at the apparatus is inboard the boat and otherwise completely out of the water.
Lure fishing on the Great Barrier Reef  – Australia - © Tourism and Events Queensland
Recreational fisher out on the bay - Great Barrier Reef  – Australia - © QPWS - Photographer: Victor Huertas
Catching a giant trevally photo - Great Barrier Reef  – Australia - © Tourism and Events Queensland
Boat cruising to an island on the Great Barrier Reef  – Australia - © Tourism and Events Queensland
Created
Updated 3 Nov 2023
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