New possession limits and closures in the NT

For the past 30 years respective NT Governments have been proactive in putting measures in place to protect fish stocks as well as enhance recreational fishing opportunities. As is evident in the quality of fishing available in the Territory they have been highly successful in achieving these outcomes.

On 1 January 2010 new recreational possession limits for a number of popular species and other measures were introduced after extensive consultations with the recreational fishing community. According to Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis the new measures are required to ensure that fish stocks are properly managed, so that the NT’s first-class recreational fishing experience can be enjoyed by Territorians and visitors alike, now and into the future.

A summary of the new controls are as follows:

  • 2 black jewfish per person (down from 5).
  • 2 Spanish mackerel per person (down from 5).
  • 3 sharks per person (excluding protected species such as sawfish).
  • 30 freshwater prawns (cherabin) and/or red claw per person.
  • A vessel limit of 10 freshwater pots when two or more people are aboard.
  • A requirement for turtle excluder rings in freshwater pots.
  • A prohibition on the recreational take of giant clams.

In other Territory news, on the 6 January 2010 Fisheries Minister Vatskalis also announced the buy-back of its fourth commercial barramundi licence since 2008, and the extension of closure lines prohibiting commercial barramundi fishing activities in waters to the south-west and north-east of Darwin.

With regards to the buy-back, the recent acquisition now leaves 20 commercial barramundi licences in the fishery, a far cry from the 113 licences operating back in 1980. There is also a commitment from government to remove a further three licences by 2013.

On the issue of closure lines, the iconic Finniss River and Little Finniss River located south-west of Darwin have now been closed to commercial barramundi fishing, as has Bynoe Harbour and the outer islands surrounding it.
According to NT Fisheries the large tidal movement and flat topography of Fog Bay were taken into consideration in determining the seaward extent of the closure lines for the two Finniss rivers. This was to ensure the effective removal of commercial effort, with the driver for government being the re-allocation of the barramundi resource (from commercial to recreational fishers) due to the higher value to the Territory of recreational fishing in the Fog Bay area.

While the Amateur Fishermans Association of the NT (AFANT) had lobbied for the seaward closure line to extend further out from the mouth of the Finniss River, to form a direct line from Point Patterson in the north to Point Jenny in the south, the new measures were welcomed none-the-less.

The existing closure line prohibiting commercial barra fishing activities, which extended west and south from Darwin, now runs from Charles Point down to Patterson Point, taking in Bynoe Harbour and surrounding islands. To the north and east of Darwin, the existing closure line has been extended and now runs from Charles Point in a direct line across to Gunn Point, which continues to take in Shoal Bay, a big barra hot spot easily accessed by Darwin anglers launching at ramps along the northern suburbs’ foreshore. With regards to areas closed to commercial barramundi fishing, it should be noted that commercial fishing vessels are still able to traverse these areas and provision is made for safe anchorages at various locations including within rivers such as the Finniss.

For further information contact NT Fisheries on (08) 8999 2144 or visit





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