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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Bag, size and possession limits explained

NEW – changes to the recreational fishing rules in WA will come into effect on 1 July 2021.

 
Key changes will include:

  • Introduction of trip limits. The possession limit of 20kg of finfish fillets remains, but all fillets in excess of 10kg must be from large pelagic species, stored separately with the skin attached.
  • Removal of the 30cm minimum fillet length for filleting at sea.
  • Update to the definition of whole fish, which can now be cut in two pieces and still be considered as one fish. (For both filleting and whole fish rules, skin will need to be attached while still at sea.)
  • Release weights will be required for the master of all fishing boats fishing by line for demersal finfish, anywhere in WA, not just in the West Coast Region.

 
For more information, read our FAQ and media release.
 
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Bag and size limits help to ensure our aquatic resources remain sustainable for future generations. While bag limits assist in sharing the resource, size limits allow fish to reach maturity to complete their breeding cycle. Measure all your fish and return undersized or excess fish alive to the water.

Mixed species daily bag limit

This is the combined maximum number of fish of any species within one category (such as demersal or large pelagic) that a fisher may take in any 24-hour period (from midnight to midnight, except from midday to midday for marron and when recreationally netting).

For example, demersal finfish in the West Coast Bioregion have a total mixed daily bag limit of two fish.

2 fish = 1 baldchin groper + 1 blue morwong

OR

2 fish = 2 pink snapper (but no other demersal fish).

Note: Within the mixed daily bag limit you cannot exceed the stated individual species limit. For example, you may only take a maximum of one coral trout per day.

Individual species daily bag limit

This is the maximum number of an individual species you may take within your total mixed species daily bag limit.

An individual bag limit shown in the bag and size limit tables next to a group of species, such as emperors, applies to each of the individual species in that group.

For example, emperors (except blue-lined emperor) have an individual daily bag limit of three in all bioregions, except the West Coast. They are also within a mixed species daily bag limit of five (across all demersal finfish for these bioregions).

5 fish = 3 red-throat emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 spangled emperor.

OR

5 fish = 3 spangled emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 red-throat emperor.

Boat limit

In addition to bag limits there are also boat limits. A boat limit is the maximum number of fish of a species or group of species that may be on a boat or attached to a boat at any one time.

On day trips in powered boats, there must be two or more Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) holders on board to take a boat limit.

For example, if three RFBL holders are fishing from a boat for demersal finfish in the West Coast Bioregion, they could have a maximum of two dhufish on board only, plus four other demersal species. Similarly, if four licensed fishers are crabbing from a vessel in the West Coast Bioregion they could have a maximum of 20 blue swimmer crabs on board.

Unlicensed fishers can fish if at least one person on board has an RFBL, provided the total catch of everyone on board stays within the bag limit of the one or more licensed boat fishers. It is the master of the boat's responsibility to ensure this rule is followed.

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

Possession limits

A finfish possession limit is the maximum quantity of finfish – either whole or in pieces – that a person may have in their control/ownership.

In WA (other than in the Abrolhos Islands and the Freycinet Estuary Management Zone) the possession limit is:

  • 20 kg of fish fillets*; of which all fillets in excess of 10 kg must be large pelagic species (such as mackerel, tuna and shark) with skin attached; or

  • 10 kg of fish fillets of any species and one day's bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks or;
  • two days' bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks. 

At the Abrolhos Islands the possession limit is:

  • 10 kg of fish fillets; or

  • one day's bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks.

In Shark Bay's Freycinet Estuary Management Zone, the possession limit is:

  • 5 kg of fish fillets; or
  •  one day's bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks. 

* You may be in possession of 20 kg of fish fillets of any species at your permanent place of residence, or if you have participated in extended fishing tour involving overnight accommodation on a charter boat, provided the fish are labelled with the person’s full name, the name of the charter boat and the date that the tour ended.

'Fillet' means any particular piece of a finfish, other than a whole fish, fish trunk, head, tail, fin, backbone or wing. For these pieces to be excluded from the possession limit they must be entirely removed from the fillet. 'Trunk' means a fish that has had its head and tail removed. Large pelagic species such as mackerel can be cut in two pieces and still considered one whole fish or fish trunk.

These limits apply throughout WA, including permanent and temporary places of residence. The following baitfish are not included in the finfish possession limit: hardyhead (Atherinidae), sardines/pilchards (Clupeidae), whitebait (Engraulidae), garfish (Hemirhamphidae) and mullet (Mugilida). Commercially purchased fish are not included, but you may be asked for proof of purchase.

Some species have a specific possession limit.

When filleting fish at sea, a minimum fillet length applies only to a fish with a minimum size limit. Fish with a maximum size limit need to be landed whole.  

Recreationally caught fish cannot be transported unaccompanied using a commercial courier.

Size limits

 Pink snapper illustration
To check if your catch is of a legal size, measure finfish from the point of the snout to the tip of the tail. Pick up your free fish ruler sticker from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development offices or participating retail stores.

For more information, see our Statewide Recreational fishing guide.

Fish with a maximum size limit cannot be filleted at sea and need to be landed whole. All other fish can be carried at sea and landed:

  • filleted, skin on;
  • trunked, skin on; or
  • whole (can be gutted and gilled).

 

Last modified: 10/06/2021 11:17 AM

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