Every fisherman knows that there are rules and regulations out there regarding their favourite pastime. But, these differ from region to region, state to state. So, making sure you’re aware of all of the rules can at times be confusing, but knowing and sticking to these rules is critical to both protecting our environment, and to preventing you from getting a hefty fine.
Each state has its own department that governs, legislates and monitors fishing within their state. In Victoria, this is the Victoria Fisheries Authority (VFA). In New South Wales, it’s the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
What these departments govern
Although the rules and regulations do vary, many of the states monitor the same things. These include:
- Fishing licenses – you may need multiple to fish across state borders
- Accepted fish sizes and species
- Possession and bag limits
- Health and safety
- Fishing zones – including marine protected areas and national parks
Familiarising yourself with the rules and regulations in place at your favourite fishing spot means you can avoid being given an infringement notice or being fined. The severity of the fine depends on the severity of the offence – fishing, selling and buying illegal (often endangered or protected) marine life species is considered a very severe offence, while a license infringement is less severe.
Fishing license infringements
For the average, recreational fisherman, the fine for not holding a fishing license varies. However, in NSW the maximum penalty is $2,200.
When you consider that the price of a 3-year fishing license in NSW is $75, it seems pretty silly not to have one. Especially because, if caught and handed the maximum fine, you could’ve legally purchased a fishing license for 88 years for the same price. When you think about it like that, fishing without a fishing license just seems like a bad investment.
The receipt of your license must be kept on you at all times to ensure that if approached by an officer for an inspection, you have all of the necessary documents on-hand. Inspections, like license checks, happen on a regular basis across all of the states, so it’s best to always be prepared.
Illegal fishing, selling and buying infringements
These fines vary from state to state but, in severe cases in Victoria, these fines can be up to as much as $180,000 and include 10 years of jail time. That is a huge penalty, that is justified because our marine life is one of our greatest environmental assets.
Making sure you are aware of the relevant protected species in your area is so important. Not only will you be protecting the environment and allowing it to thrive naturally, but you will be protecting yourself from the severe fines and jail time that can come out of it.
These rules and regulations are in place to protect marine life. Taking into account local environmental factors, these departments create these rules to make sure that over-fishing and other fishing-related environmental impacts are minimal. After all, wouldn’t you want future generations to be able to experience that same fishing experiences that you have been given?