Recreational fishing

You do not need a licence for recreational fishing in South Australia.

You just need to be aware and follow rules about:

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) is the government agency responsible for managing South Australia’s fish stocks on behalf of the government and community. PIRSA manages the fishing activities of an estimated 277,000 recreational fishers.

This is done through:

  • administration of the Fisheries Management Act 2007
  • enforcing closures and aquatic reserves
  • regulating recreational fishing gear
  • enforcing size, bag, boat and catchand possession limits
  • protecting species
  • the FISHCARE volunteer program
  • Fishwatch.

Size, bag, boat and possession limits

Size, bag, boat and possession limits are enforced by PIRSA to protect aquatic stocks and make sure there are enough fish for the future. They make sure that the number and correct size of fish are taken. This allows juvenile species to continue to grow and breed.

See the fishing limits page for more information.

Tips for using bait and berley

Before you go fishing, make sure you are familiar with the bait and berley guidelines below. By following these simple tips, you can help limit the spread of aquatic disease and pests in South Australia's coastal waters.

  • Do not use Pacific Oysters or Abalone, even when dead, as bait or berley
  • Never use leftover or uncooked seafood sold for human consumption, such as prawns, abalone, crabs, oysters, as bait or berley as it has the potential to spread aquatic diseases. It should be noted that these types of aquatic diseases have no impact on humans.
  • Do not discard or store live oysters or their shells in SA waters. Dispose of them in landfill.
  • Bivalves (Oysters, Mussels, Razorfish, Cockles) cannot be taken from the Port River for any use including bait or berley
  • Blood, bone, meat, offal and skin of an animal cannot be used for berley in South Australian marine waters
  • Appropriate bait and berley can be purchased from your local tackle shop or fishing store (try local Sardines, Squid, Pipi, Cockles or Beach Worms). The fresher the bait, the more appealing it is to fish
  • Alternatively, try using artificial bait such as soft plastics and lures, which can be purchased from tackle shops.
  • When purchasing bait, check its origin. Imported bait should be labelled appropriately and requires treatment to deactivate potential exotic disease. Prawns and worms from a particular area in Queensland are required to be irradiated to prevent the importation of White Spot Disease into South Australia
  • Remember that under the Fisheries Management Act 2007, it is an offence to release or deposit exotic and / or aquaculture farmed species into the waters of South Australia. Fines may apply.
  • If you're berleying, don't forget that there are rules around where and what you can use. You must not use any part of the body of an animal (other than a fish, worm or insect) as berley within 2 nautical miles of the mainland or any island or reef that is part of South Australia and exposed at the low water mark.

Keep up to date with helpful fishing tips, even when you are on the jetty or on the water, by downloading the free SA Recreational Fishing App.

Closures and aquatic reserves

Closures and aquatic reserves protect significant habitat, ecosystems and communities in South Australian waters. Fishing activities and other activities might be prohibited or restricted within these areas. Aquatic reserves provide protection to nursery areas allowing the species to breed and grow without interference.

See information on closures and aquatic reserves.

Regulating fishing gear

We enforce regulations about the:

  • number of devices allowed
  • type and legal specification of devices that can be used
  • marking of devices.

PIRSA's compliance officers are responsible for monitoring fishing gear to make sure it is compliant.

Protected species

Some fish species are protected and must not be taken:

  • at all times
  • during certain stages of their life cycle
  • during certain times of the year
  • from particular closed areas or reserves

See the protected species page for more information.

FISHCARE volunteer program

The FISHCARE volunteer program raises awareness among the fishing communities about the need to protect and preserve our resources for future generations.


  • educate fishers about rules and regulations
  • give advice and assistance
  • hand out fisheries information material
  • attend community events.

Learn more about the FISHCARE volunteer program.


We run Fishwatch to make sure fishing rules and regulations are followed.

The Fishwatch 24 hour hotline lets members of the public:

  • report illegal fishing activities
  • ask for information about rules and regulations
  • find out about licencing and regulation
  • report unusual activity around fish.

See the Fishwatch section for more information.

Page Last Reviewed: 26 Jul 2017
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