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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Recreational boat fishing

In a State with a coast stretching more than 12,800 km, boating is a popular recreational pastime.

You will need a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) for any fishing activity from a powered boat including:

  • line fishing (handline, rod and line, squid jigging);
  • catching crabs;
  • spearfishing
  • dip-netting for prawns.

* RFBL holders continue to be allowed to use ‘trigger traps’ to fish for octopus as part of an extended trial exemption, but a number of rules around the use of this gear applies.

You need an RFBL for these fishing activities even if you are returning your catch to the water. An RFBL is also required when a powered boat is used to transport your catch or fishing gear from a land-based fishing location, including an island or a sandbar. You must produce your licence when requested to by a Fisheries and Marine Officer.

You don’t need an RFBL if you are:

  • Fishing from a boat without a motor; such as a row boat.
  • Fishing from a licensed fishing tour operator’s vessel or fishing charter boat.
  • Fishing with a person who holds an RFBL (see ‘bag and boat limits’ below).
  • Taking part in a fishing activity for which you already hold a current licence, such as rock lobster or abalone fishing. For example, if you have a licence to fish for rock lobster and that is the only fishing activity taking place on the boat, you don’t need an RFBL.

The RFBL database of boat fishers helps us determine who is fishing, where and what they are catching. This information assists us in managing our fisheries.

The RFBL covers a 12-month period from the date of issue and costs $30 or $15 for concessions. You can buy or renew your licence at Department of Fisheries offices or online.

Our recreational fishing rules page gives more information about bag limits and other fishing rules that apply to boat fishers.

Since they were introduced in 2010, the sale of RFBLs has generated more than $7.5 million for the management and enhancement of the State’s recreational fishing.

Licence funds are spent on a number of initiatives of direct benefit to recreational fishers in Western Australia.

Note: If you are boat fishing for demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion you must carry a release weight on board. See our Statewide Recreational fishing guide for more details

Bag and boat limits

Unlicensed fishers can fish if one or more people on board have an RFBL, provided the total catch of everyone on board stays within the bag limit of the licensed fisher(s). It is the licensed boat fisher’s(s’) responsibility to ensure this rule is followed.

Note: This only applies to the RFBL not to other recreational fishing licences.

In addition to bag limits there are boat limits. To legally take the boat limit on a powered vessel, there must be two or more RFBL holders on board. This includes boats used for recreational crabbing. The boat operator must ensure this rule is followed.

Last modified: 10/06/2016 2:27 PM

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