Profiles of Australian fisheries

​Australian fisheries are spread around the continental landmass of Australia, covering a range of harvesting methods for a range of species. The following profiles contain data from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years.

[expand all]

Commonwealth fisheries

TABLE 14 Commonwealth fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpecies MethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
Northern PrawnBanana prawn, tiger prawn, Endeavour prawn and king prawnOtter trawl53 vessels55 vessels
Torres Strait aPrawns, tropical rock lobster, Spanish
mackerel, pearl shell, trochus, finfish, sea cucumber, crab
Otter trawl, troll, handline,
free dive, hookah
532 endorsements
281 endorsements
123 endorsements
117 endorsements
143 endorsements
78 endorsements
117 endorsements
245 endorsements
519 endorsements
266 endorsements
119 endorsements
84 endorsements
150 endorsements
80 endorsements
123 endorsements
248 endorsements
SESSF Commonwealth Trawl SectorMixed fish species, particularly pink ling, blue grenadier, flathead, silver warehouOtter trawl, Danish seine51 vessels48 vessels
SESSF Gillnet , Hook and Trap SectorMixed fish species particularly pink ling, blue-eye trevalla, gummy sharkDemersal gillnet, demersal longline, dropline, trotline,
trap, purse seine
65 vessels71 vessels
SESSF Great Australian Bight Trawl SectorDeepwater flathead, Bight redfishDemersal otter, limited
midwater trawl
4 vessels5 vessels
Southern Bluefin TunaSouthern bluefin tunaPurse seine, pole and line,
longline, trolling
(6 farm boats and 25 domestic)(5 farm boats and 26 domestic)
Eastern Tuna and BillfishYellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, albacore, billfishPelagic longline, purse seine, pole, trolling, rod and reel,
44 vessels46 vessels
Western Tuna and BillfishYellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, albacore, billfishPole and line, purse seine, pelagic longline, troll, rod and
reel, handline
3 vessels
2 longliners
1 minorline
3 vessels
Bass Strait ScallopScallopDredge11 vessels12 vessels
Small Pelagic bBlue mackerel, jack mackerel, redbait, Australian sardinePurse seine, midwater trawl3 vessels3 vessels
Southern Squid JigGould’s squidJig7 vessels6 vessels
Sub AntarcticPatagonian toothfish, mackerel icefish Patagonian  toothfishTrawl (demersal and midwater), longline, trial pot
fishing Demersal trawl
7 vessels5 vessels
Western Deepwater TrawlMixed fish speciesOtter trawl11 permits, no fishing11 permits, 1 vessels
North West Slope TrawlScampiOtter trawl7 permits
2 fishing
7 permits
2 vessels
Coral SeaReef fish including shark, trochus, tropical rock lobster, sea cucumber, aquarium fish, live rockDemersal line, trawl and fish trap, hand collection with and without breathing apparatus, hand-held scoop, seine nets16 permits
3 vessels
16 permits
6 vessels
South Tasman RiseOrange roughy, smooth oreodory, spikey oreodoryDeepwater demersal trawlclosedclosed

a Numbers of active transferable vessel holder and traditional inhabitant licences in Torres Strait with commercial fishing endorsements.  
b Includes four permits held in the Informally Managed Fishery. SESSF Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. SFR Statutory
fishing right.
Source: Australian Fisheries Management Authority

New South Wales

TABLE 15 NSW fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
AbaloneBlacklip abalone (only)Diving50 shareholdings50 shareholdings
Rock LobsterEastern rock lobsterTrapping98 shareholdings100 shareholdings
Ocean TrawlPrawns, flathead and school whitingOtter board trawling201 shareholdings181 shareholdings
Ocean Trap and LineSnapper, leatherjacket, bonito and spanner crabFish and spanner crab traps, handline and dropline346 shareholdings327 shareholdings
Ocean HaulingMullet, Australian sardine and Eastern Australian salmonHauling (seine) nets and purse seine net263 shareholdings232 shareholdings
Southern Fish TrawlFlathead, school whitingOtter board trawling23 shareholdings19 shareholdings
Estuary Prawn TrawlSchool prawn, squid andking prawn king prawnOtter board trawling154 shareholdings134 shareholdings
Estuary GeneralMullet, bream, prawn and crabMesh and hauling (seine) nets, crab and fish traps and hand gathering588 shareholdings533 shareholdings
InlandYabby and European carp (only)Yabby traps and gillnets28 shareholdings28 shareholdings
Sea Urchin and Turban ShellSea urchin and periwinkleDiving37 shareholdings37 shareholdings
Aquaculture aPrawnsPond culture10 licence holders10 licence holders
YabbyPonds and farm dams67 licence holders63 licence holders
OysterRack tray and stick297 licence holders284 licence holders
Silver perchPond76 licence holders71 licence holders
TroutPonds and raceway23 licence holders21 licence holders
Snapperna9 licence holders9 licence holders
BarramundiPond culture10 licence holders8 licence holders

a Aquaculture licence holders may culture more than one species per licence. na Not applicable.
Note: All New South Wales shares/entitlements are held in fishing businesses that may have shares and/or entitlements in one or more fisheries.
The Abalone, Rock Lobster, Ocean Trawl (Prawn and Northern Fish Trawl), Ocean Trap and Line, Ocean Hauling, Estuary General and Estuary Prawn Trawl Fisheries are share management fisheries. The Sea Urchin and Turban Shell, Southern Fish Trawl and Inland Fisheries are restricted fisheries.
Source: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries


TABLE 16 Victorian fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
AbaloneGreenlip abalone, blacklip abaloneDiving71 licences71 licences
ScallopsScallopDredge90 licences90 licences
Bay and InletMixed speciesVarious57 licences57 licences
Rock LobsterSouthern rock lobsterPots107 licences
and 7,235 pots
107 licences
and 7,235 pots
Giant CrabGiant crabPots16 licences14 licences
Inshore TrawlMixed speciesVarious54 licences54 licences
Wrasse (Ocean)WrasseHandlines22 licences22 licences
Bait (General)Mixed speciesVarious12 licences12 licences
Ocean (General)Mixed speciesVarious183 licences171 licences
Aquaculture aAbaloneFlow-through systems10 licences10 licences
Freshwater eel, longfin eelRecirculation units and
cultured waters
12 licences13 licences
MusselsLonglines16 licences16 licences
Ornamental fishRecirculation units and
8 licences9 licences
YabbyRecirculation units, ponds and farm dams17 licences17 licences
SalmonidsRecirculation units and
18 licences18 licences
Warm-water finfishRecirculation units, flow-through system
and ponds
16 licences18 licences
Otherna18 licences21 licences

a Aquaculture licence holders may culture more than one species on their licence. na Not applicable.
Source: Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries


TABLE 17 Queensland fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
East Coast TrawlTiger prawn, banana prawn, king prawn, Endeavour prawn, bay prawn, saucer scallop, buOtter trawl374 licence holders370 licence holders
River and Estuary TrawlBanana prawn, bay prawn, tiger prawnBeam trawl87 licence holders83 licence holders
Gulf of Carpentaria InshoreBarramundi, king threadfin, blue threadfin, shark, grey mackerelNet88 licence holders88 licence holders
East Coast Net (mainly Tropical)Barramundi, king threadfin, blue threadfin, shark, grey mackerelNet105 licence holders94 licence holders
East Coast Net (mainly Subtropical)Mullet, tailor, whiting, bream, grey mackerel, sharkNet94 licence holders86 licence holders
East Coast SharkVarious shark speciesNet120 licence holders115 licence holders
East Coast Handline (mainly Tropical)Coral trout, redthroat emperor, various other reef speciesHandline192 licence holders190 licence holders
East Coast Handline (mainly Subtropical)Snapper, pearl perch, other rocky reef speciesHandline231 licence holders226 licence holders
Line RQ (Handline) aCoral trout, redthroat emperor, various other reef specieHandline349 licence holders347 licence holders
Line SM (Trolling) bSpanish mackerelTrolling244 licence holders240 licence holders
Estuary CrabMud crab, blue swimmer crabPot417 licence holders412 licence holders
Oceanic CrabSpanner crabPot232 licence holders239 licence holders
AquaculturePrawnsPond culture58 development approvals (19 producing)61 development approvals (16 producing)
BarramundiPond and cage culture (incl. tank culture)219 development approvals (21 producing)221 development approvals (21 producing)
OysterRack and stick culture84 development approvals (26 producing)105 development approvals (30 producing)
RedclawPond culture156 development approvals (25 producing)155 development approvals (23 producing)
Freshwater fishPond and tank culture214 development approvals (16 producing)215 development approvals (14 producing)
EelPond and tank culture53 development approvals (0 producing)53 development approvals (1 producing)

a Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery; the RQ symbol can be used only in the area defined for the East Coast Line Fishery symbol(s) appearing on the same licence.
b Spanish Mackerel Fishery; the SM symbol can be used only in the area defined for the East Coast Line Fishery symbol(s) appearing on the same licence.
Source: Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

South Australia

TABLE 18 South Australian fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
Blue CrabBlue swimmer crabPots9 licence holders9 licence holders
Central Zone AbaloneGreenlip abalone, blacklip abaloneDiving6 licence holders6 licence holders
Gulf St Vincent PrawnKing prawnTrawl10 licence holders10 licence holders
Lakes and CoorongFreshwater finfish, marine finfish, molluscsNetting, line fishing,
36 licence holders36 licence holders
Marine ScalefishVarious finfish, crustaceans, molluscsNetting, line fishing, handlines and traps308 licence holders306 licence holders
MiscellaneousVarious finfish, crustaceans, molluscs, wormsTraps, diving, etc.14 licence holders14 licence holders
Northern Zone Rock LobsterSouthern rock lobsterPots63 licence holders63 licence holders
Restricted Marine ScalefishVarious finfish, crustaceans, molluscsNetting, line fishing, handlines, traps4 licence holders3 licence holders
River FisheryFreshwater finfish, crustaceansNetting, pots6 licence holders6 licence holders
Southern Zone Rock LobsterSouthern rock lobsterPots180 licence holders180 licence holders
Southern Zone AbaloneGreenlip abalone, blacklip abaloneDiving6 licence holders6 licence holders
Spencer Gulf PrawnKing prawnTrawl39 licence holders39 licence holders
West Coast PrawnKing prawnTrawl3 licence holders3 licence holders
Western Zone AbaloneGreenlip abalone, blacklip abaloneDiving22 licence holders22 licence holders
AquacultureLand-based Category A: native species to local area, e.g. yabbyPonds, dams37 licences30 licences
Land-based Category B: exotic species to locality, e.g. marron, barramundiPonds, dams and recirculation systems42 licences36 licences
Land-based Category C: high risk, e.g. abalonePonds, recirculation
13 licences13 licences
Marine: abaloneSea cages, contained longlines, uncontained benthic structures9 licences8 licences
Marine:  intertidal molluscs, e.g. oysterContained racks and contained longlines9 licence holders10 licence holders
Marine: subtidal molluscs, e.g. blue musselLonglines6 licence holders38 licence holders
Marine: tunaSea cages10 licence holders14 licence holders
Marine: finfishSea cages36 licence holders23 licence holders

Sources: Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia; South Australian Research and Development Institute

Western Australia

TABLE 19 Western Australian fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
West Coast Rock Lobster aWestern rock lobsterPots236 boats240 boats
Abalone bGreenlip abalone, brownlip abalone, Roe’s abaloneDiving41 active licences37 active licences
Shark Bay PrawnKing prawn, tiger prawn, Endeavour prawn, saucer scallopTrawl18 licences18 licences
Exmouth Gulf PrawnKing prawn, tiger prawn, Endeavour prawnTrawl15 licences15 licences
Nickol Bay PrawnKing prawn, banana prawnTrawl14 licences14 licences
YabbyPonds and farm
MarronPonds and farm damsnana
Blue musselLonglinesnana

a Number of boats was presented because of changes in licencing and operation of the fishery.
b Number of active licences were given instead of active boats given in previous years because of a change in data collection processes. na Not applicable.
Source: WA Department of Fisheries


TABLE 20 Tasmanian fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
AbaloneBlacklip abalone, greenlip abaloneDiving120 licence holders121 licence holders
Rock LobsterSouthern rock lobsterPots311 licence holders311 licence holders
Giant CrabGiant crabPots84 licence holders82 licence holders
ScallopCommercial scallop, doughboy scallop, queen scallopScallop harvester59 licence holders67 licence holders
ScalefishVariousNetting/hooks281 licence holders275 licence holders
AquacultureAtlantic salmonSea cages45 licence holders45 licence holders
Pacific oysterRacking/line system101 licence holders103 licence holders
Blue musselLonglines6 licence holders6 licence holders
Rainbow troutSea cagesnana
Otherna14 licence holders12 licence holders
AbaloneLand-based tanks6 licence holders6 licence holders

na Not applicable.
Source: Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

Northern Territory

TABLE 21 Northern Territory fisheries profiles, 2015–16 to 2016–17
FisherySpeciesMethodNumber (2015–16)Number (2016–17)
CoastalFinfish and baitLine, net and trap70 licence holders73 licence holders
Offshore aMackerel, shark, reef fishTrolling, hand and longline net, trap and trawling58 licence holders56 licence holders
BarramundiBarramundi and threadfinGillnet14 licence holders14 licence holders
Mud crabMud crabCrab pots49 licence holders49 licence holders
OtherMolluscs, oyster, sea cucumber, squid and aquarium fishHand harvest, jigging and a variety of other methods24 licence holders24 licence holders
Aquaculture bPrawnsna0 endorsements0 endorsements
Barramundina1 endorsements1 endorsements
Othersna3 endorsements5 endorsements
Pearlsna4 licence holders4 licence holders

a As a result of administrative changes in the Timor Reef Fishery and Demersal Fishery, both are now managed by individual transferrable quota and no restrictions apply to the number of licences that can be issued or held.
b Aquaculture licence holders may culture more than one species on their licences. The number of licences is included once for each type; if a licence is approved for barramundi, prawns and other species, it will be listed once in each category. na Not applicable.
Source: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.