Do You Need A Fishing License In South Australia?

One thing guaranteed to ruin your fishing experience, recreational or commercial, is being caught fishing without a license. In Australian states, where it is mandatory to have a fishing license, failure to have one exposes you to consequences such as fines. 

You do not need a fishing license for recreational fishing in South Australia, with some exceptions. When fishing in certain reservoirs, using rock lobster pots, or doing recreational mesh net fishing in some areas, you need a permit. A license is mandatory to conduct commercial fishing. 

Since commercial activities generally require licenses, this article will talk about licenses for recreational fishing. Read on to find out which activities are considered recreational fishing and how to stay on the right side of the law when carrying them out.

What Qualifies As Legal Recreational Fishing In South Australia? 

To carry out recreational fishing in South Australia, you don’t need a license. Still, it is essential to be clear about what counts as recreational fishing to ensure you don’t unknowingly engage in other types of fishing that need a license or are illegal.

Recreational fishing in South Australia is fishing that is not commercial or aboriginal traditional fishing. If you sell what you catch, you are fishing commercially and need a license. Aboriginals fishing for non-commercial purposes don’t need a permit.

You are free to conduct recreational fishing in South Australia, in line with the above definition of the practice. However, there are additional restrictions. 

Legal Recreational Fishing In South Australia Has Limits

Specific regulations on recreational fishing are in place to ensure the sustainability of the practice and reduce the associated negative impact on the environment. So, the law constricts the scope of recreational fishing to accommodate them.

To continue conducting recreational fishing without a license, you must adhere to the regulations on recreational fishing. Some of the areas that these regulations cover include: 

  • The size of fish you catch 
  • The number of fish you catch 
  • The time of day you fish 
  • The fishing methods you use 
  • The type of fishing gear you use

When fishing in SA, you must know and follow the rules. However, learning the regulationsOpens in a new tab. in their totality can be overwhelming – and that’s why I’m here to help.

Tips On Carrying Out Recreational Fishing In SA Within The Law

The following guidelines are a less daunting place to start when ensuring that your recreational fishing activities are authorized: 

  • Do not sell what you catch. 
  • Use a maximum of two fishing rods or two hand lines per individual or one of each.
  • Use a maximum of three hooks on the lines or five threaded together.
  • Do not fish in seasonal closures or aquatic reserves where fishing is prohibited.
  • Do not fish in the following reservoirs without a permit: Happy Valley, Myponga, South Para, Warren, Beetaloo, and Bundaleer.
  • Do not use gear like rock lobster pots and mesh nets without checking whether you are supposed to register them. 
  • Do not take or cause harm to protected speciesOpens in a new tab. like the catfish in Lake Eyre.

Groups Of People Automatically Exempt From Having A Fishing License

Assuming that it was a legal requirement to have a license when conducting recreational fishing in South Australia, the following would probably not require one: 

  • People who are less than 18 years old 
  • Seniors who are at least 70 years old 
  • Holders of certain concession cards like the Pensioner Concession Card and the Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card 
  • Aboriginals

The information on exemptions above comes from states with license requirements, including VictoriaOpens in a new tab. and New South WalesOpens in a new tab..

How Come You Don’t Need A Recreational Fishing License In South Australia? 

You don’t need a recreational fishing license in South Australia because some people fear that proceeds from permits would be used for other political expenditures. South Australia is a popular tourist spot due to its lack of restrictions on fishing. So, fishing already boosts the SA economy. 

Regulation in the fishing industry is crucial in ensuring the sustainability of fishing. Without limitation, it is highly likely that people will fish certain species out of existence and that, soon, there will be very little left to catch. 

Some recreational fishermen in SA feel that proceeds from licenses would help significantly improve recreational fishing. Victoria has been a model for this, with the fees used for programs such as creating and stocking artificial reefs. 

However, government mistrust, objection to “a new form of tax,” and fears that the state will use the money in other sectors seem prevalent among recreational fishermen in SA. Such reasons could explain why licensing fees have not been introduced. 

In addition, a significant number of tourists from other Australian states flock to SA to fish there because they don’t have to pay licensing fees. Locals don’t want to lose the business that fishing tourists bring.

Why The Other States Have Recreational Fishing Licenses

Most states in Australia require individuals doing recreational fishing within their jurisdiction to obtain a license. These states include:

  • New South Wales
  • Western Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria

Queensland, Northern Territory, and South Australia (SA) are the exceptions. 

Licensing fees are usually used to:

  • Establish and improve existing facilities such as piers, jetties, and fish cleaning sites.
  • Stock habitats with new fish species. 
  • Fund scientific study to promote sustainability and economic viability 

In South Australia, there has been talk of introducing recreational fishing licenses, with the state even asking for inputOpens in a new tab. from the fishing community in an online survey. 

The results of a state-sponsored online survey on introducing a recreational fishing license were mixedOpens in a new tab.


Generally, you don’t need a fishing license to conduct recreational fishing in South Australia. Caveats to this include when you are fishing in areas like reservoirs or when using gear like mesh nets. 

That said, even when doing recreational fishing in allowed areas and with legal gear, there are additional regulations that you should adhere to. They are in place to promote the sustainability of recreational fishing. 

Such regulations touch on size, quantity, time, gear, and areas where you fish. It is your responsibility to learn and follow the rules. Happy recreational and legal fishing! 

Daniel Clarke

The website is run by myself Daniel Clarke, I’m lucky enough to have been living in Hervey Bay, for 31 years so I’m classed as a local I have seen many changes over this time. Read more about us here

Leave a Reply

More Pages On Other Areas