Responsible fishing

Enjoy your fishing—now and in the future

Help make sure we have fish for the future and be a responsible fisher by:

  • thinking about which fish you target
  • use the best fishing and handling techniques
  • only taking what you need.

Consider where you fish

You can help to maintain Queensland’s native fish populations by fishing:

Follow the rules

To make sure there are plenty of fish for everyone, we have sensible rules in place :

For the latest fishing rules, download the free Qld Fishing 2.0 app from the App Store or Google Play.

Check your bait

White spot disease is a highly contagious viral infection that affects crustaceans such as prawns, crabs and yabbies.

  • Follow the movement restrictions in place to prevent the spread of white spot disease.
  • Only use Australian, wild-caught prawns from a quality bait supplier or catch your own. Read more on Check your bait.
  • Do not use imported raw prawns as bait. They may introduce serious diseases into our waterways.

White spot disease does not pose a risk to food safety or human health, so prawns are safe to eat.

Catch and release

Always be prepared to release part of your catch to comply with fishing rules to help keep our fish stocks sustainable.

To ensure they have the best chance of survival, immediately release:

  • undersized
  • oversized
  • no-take or closed-season species.

Never discard fish you have kept just to upgrade your catch.

Treating barotrauma

When a fish is hauled to the surface, it can suffer barotrauma. This happens when the air in its swim bladder expands as pressure decreases. Barotrauma can be deadly as it:

  • causes internal injuries
  • may prevent the fish swimming down from the water surface, leaving it exposed to sun damage and predators.

It mainly affects fish caught in water more than 20m deep, but different species react differently.

Watch our video on barotrauma or read our guide on identifying and treating barotrauma.

Catch and release tips

Selecting gear

  • Use barbless hooks to limit injury to the fish or circle hooks to avoid deep-hooking.
  • Use degradable hooks and suitable line strength when catching and releasing fish.


  • Land the fish as quickly as possible.
  • Wet any materials that may come in contact with the fish, including your hands.
  • Use a knotless landing net to minimise the impact.
  • If you plan to release the fish, consider not landing it and release it while it’s still in the water.

Handling and unhooking

  • Minimise handling and keep the fish in water as much as possible.
  • Remove hooks quickly but gently – longnose pliers and wire cutters can help.
  • If the fish is hooked deeply or you can’t remove the hook without harming the fish, cut the line close to the hook.
  • Do not hold up large fish by the line, jaw or gills. Cradle the fish near the head and tail or gently hold the fish near the midsection.
  • If you are taking photos before release, try to take them with the fish still in the water. Otherwise, support the fish properly and take the photos quickly.


  • Return protected species to the water unharmed immediately.
  • Check for predators before releasing for your safety and the safety of the fish.
  • If safe to do so, hold the fish underwater with its head facing into the current. If there is no current, ‘swim’ the fish around until it swims on its own.
  • If the fish is suffering from barotrauma, consider using a dropper weight (release weight) to release the fish.

Watch our video about the top tips for catch and release.

Do your part. Be SharkSmart.

Minimise the risk to yourself and other waterway users of a negative encounter with a shark. Read:

Reduce shark depredation

Depredation is when a fish caught in fishing gear is completely or partially eaten before it can be landed. Sharks are usually responsible, but other fish (such as cobia and grouper) and dolphins can also take fish.

Shark depredation can lead to:

  • fishers losing fishing gear and their catch
  • more fish being killed as fishers lose fish to sharks in addition to those they keep
  • sharks being injured or killed due to hooks in their jaw or stomach.
  • sharks associating fishing with a food source, leading to an increase in depredation.

Tips to reduce shark depredation

  • Move your fishing spot regularly – move on once you have caught a few fish and don’t go back to the same fishing spot too often (sharks can learn that it’s an easy source of food) – and if you start losing fish to sharks, move to another spot a good distance away.
  • Fish in shallower depths and with lines close to the boat when trolling – fish can be retrieved quickly, and sharks have less time to take them.
  • Use handlines and/or electric reels – this may help you to get fish in the boat faster.
  • Avoid using bait and burley – this attracts sharks – switch to using lures and jigs.
  • Avoid cleaning your fish and dumping the waste where you are fishing – this attracts sharks – always discard fish waste far away from fishing and swimming areas.
  • Switch the fish you target – if you find sharks are taking a particular species, try switching your target species.
  • Turn your engine and echosounder off when you arrive at your fishing spot – this reduces noise and the chance of attracting sharks.

Find out more about our shark depredation research.

Minimise your impact on the environment

Stop the spread of invasive (pest) fish

Invasive fish include:

  • noxious fish
  • aquarium/ornamental fish
  • native fish that are not native to an area.

Don’t release these fish into Queensland’s natural waterways and dams. They can greatly reduce native fish numbers and affect their habitat. Find out more about invasive fish and how to dispose of them.

Report all invasive (pest) fish sightings and captures. Report invasive fish online or call 13 25 23.

Dispose of rubbish responsibly

Always dispose of litter, fishing gear and fish waste responsibly:

  • Don’t throw items such as cigarette butts, plastic bags, bottles, cans and discarded fishing gear into the water – they are common causes of marine and freshwater pollution that impact ecosystems.
  • Use environmentally friendly fishing tackle such as lead-alternative sinkers, biodegradable line and non–stainless steel hooks.
  • Recover fishing line and tackle from the water – reuse any tackle you find.

Care for wildlife

  • Check your fishing lines and gear regularly to make sure wildlife aren’t caught in them.
  • Avoid fishing in bird feeding and nesting areas – keep your distance so as not to disturb them.
  • Collect and dispose of any discarded fishing line so it doesn’t pose a risk to wildlife – don’t leave anything behind.
  • If you find sick, injured or trapped wildlife, call the RSPCA hotline: 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

Get involved with fish tagging

Scientists at universities, and state and federal agencies often tag fish in Queensland to improve our understanding of fish movement, growth and survival rates.

You can join:

  • a volunteer fish tagging program in Queensland. Call Suntag on 1800 077 001 (toll-free).
  • the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Game Fish Tagging Program.

Caught a tagged fish?

You can keep a tagged fish if it’s:

  • within size and possession limits
  • not subject to a closed season.

Call the number on the tag and provide the following information:

  • tag number (if there are two tags, record details of both)
  • date and place of capture
  • fork length and/or total length.

You can also post the tag and information to the tagging coordinator.

If the tag has ‘keep frame’ on it, Fisheries Queensland officers may want to examine the fish skeleton. Freeze the fish frame and call the number on the tag to arrange collection.

If you decide to release the fish, please call the number on the tag or Suntag on 1800 077 001 to provide the information.

Report illegal fishing