skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Large potato cod swimming in the water
​It’s important to be able to quickly identify and safely release totally protected species like this potato cod. Picture: Shannon Conway.
Monday 24 July 2017

ID the key to safe release

With tourist numbers swelling across northern WA during the dry season, fisheries officers are reminding visitors of the importance of being able to identify protected species found throughout the Pilbara-Kimberley so they can be released quickly and without harm.

Some species are protected because their populations have become threatened, while others are protected because they have slow rates of reproduction or can only be found in specific areas, requiring an added layer of protection to ensure their sustainability.

In the north, protected species include sawfish, Queensland groper, humphead Maori wrasse, whale shark and potato cod.

Fish that are under minimum or over maximum size limits are also protected, as are crabs and lobsters carrying eggs.

Any protected species caught must be immediately and carefully returned to the water.

Fines for taking protected species can be significant – a first offence can attract a fine of up to $5,000.

Anyone who has information on illegal fishing activities is asked to call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

Last modified: 24/07/2017 5:04 PM

© All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved. ABN: 18 951 343 745


© This work is copyright. You may display, print or reproduce this material only in an unaltered format for your personal or non-commercial use, or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.


The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at