skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Protected species categories

A number of species that are found in Western Australian waters are protected under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) and must not be taken by fishers.

Although some species are protected because populations have become threatened or endangered, this is not true for all protected species. Some fish (for example stingrays) are protected because of the unique social value they provide to local communities.

Under sections 46, 47 and 48A of the FRMA, it is against the law to take, possess, sell, purchase, consign or bring into the State or into WA waters any protected fish species – penalties may apply.

Any protected species that are caught must therefore be returned to the water immediately. 

Protected species are divided into categories.

Totally protected

No one can fish for these species. Some examples of totally protected fish in Western Australia include:

  • Whale shark
  • Potato cod
  • Humphead Maori wrasse
  • Leafy and weedy seadragons
  • Sawfish
  • White shark

Commercially protected

These species may not be taken for commercial purposes. Some examples of commercially protected fish include:

  • Billfish (marlins, sailfish and spearfish)
  • Sharks and rays
  • Oyster of the families Ostreidae and Pteriidae

All freshwater aquatic organisms other than sooty grunter and catfish of the Family Ariidae.

Recreationally protected 

These species may not be taken by recreational fishers. Some examples of recreationally protected fish include:

All totally protected, commercially protected or recreational protected fish are listed in the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995, Schedule 2, Part 1, 2 and 3.

Fish and other marine species (for example whales, dolphins, sea lions and turtles) may also be protected under other State legislation (e.g. the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 administered by the Department of Parks and Wildlifeor Commonwealth legislation (e.g. the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment). 

For more information, download our For more information, download our Marine protected species ID guide.



Last modified: 7/02/2022 3:37 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