Marine scalefish fishery

The commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) is a multi-species and multi-gear fishery. Commercial fishing can be undertaken for more than 60 species of scalefish using a range of gear types in South Australian coastal waters.

Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform

South Australia's Commercial Marine Scalefishery needs reforming to ensure sustainable fish stocks and a viable industry into the future.

A Commercial Marine Scale Fisheries Reform Advisory Committee has been established to guide the development and implementation of a reform package for the South Australian commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery.

Marine scalefish species

There are over 60 species of marine scalefish taken commercially.

The main species taken are:

  • King George Whiting
  • Southern Garfish
  • Southern Calamari.

Those 4 species make up:

  • 60% of the total fishery production weight
  • 70% of the total fishery value.

Not all species taken by this fishery are scalefish.

Other species include:

  • squid
  • worms
  • sharks.

Only permitted species of scalefish may be taken by licenced commercial fishers in South Australia. The full list of permitted species, including families and classes of species, is in Schedule 1 of the Fisheries Management (Marine Scalefish Fisheries) Regulations 2017.

Marine scalefish fishery area

The Marine Scalefish Fishery operates in all coastal waters of South Australia between the Western Australian and Victorian border. For some species the Offshore Constitutional Settlement extends the fishery area out 200 nautical miles to the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone miles.

The fishing area includes:

  • gulfs
  • bays
  • estuaries, excluding the Coorong.

Gear types

There are 21 gear types that can be registered on a marine scalefish fishery licence.

Gear includes:

  • hook and line
  • longline
  • haul nets
  • mesh nets
  • jigs.

Hand collection, handlines, and rod and lines do not need registration. See the Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery User Guide (PDF 5.3 MB) for more information.


The Marine scalefish fishery is a limited entry fishery. There are no new licences available.


Marine scalefish fishery licences are issued for the the term of the 10 year management plan.


Commercial licence fees must be paid each financial year. Invoices are issued annually in early June.

Payments can be made:

  • up-front
  • in a lump sum
  • in quarterly installments.


Marine scalefish licences can be transferred, subject to the licence amalgamation scheme. All licence transfers are governed by the Fisheries Management (Marine Scalefish Fisheries) Regulations 2017.


The licence amalgamation scheme reduces the number of licences, and therefore the maximum amount of fishing effort, within the fishery. The amalgamation scheme requires at least two licences to be joined together, with one of those licences being removed from the fishery as a consequence. Once a licence has amalgamated it can be freely transferred without having to be amalgamated with another licence, subject to all other conditions and regulations.

See the Application to transfer an MSF or Restricted Marine Scalefish Fishery (RMSF) licence form (PDF 419.2 KB) or the management plan for more information.

Boat registration and de-registration

All boats used for commercial fishing must be registered.

Use the Application to vary a boat registration endorsement form (PDF 266.4 KB) to register or de-register a boat.

Master registration

Licence holders must be registered as the master of the licence. The Marine scalefish fishery is an owner operator fishery. There are exceptions listed below.

See the Application to change registration of a master – Marine Scalefish Fishery (PDF 228.0 KB) for more information.

Owner operator exceptions

  1. When a licence holder owns more than 1 licence and registers a master on a second licence. See the Application to change registration of a master – Marine Scalefish Fishery (PDF 228.0 KB).
  2. When a master is sand crab pot fishing only. See the Sand crab sector application to change registration of master (PDF 315.0 KB).
  3. When a master is ocean leather jacket trap fishing only. See the Sand crab sector application to change registration of master (PDF 315.0 KB).
  4. When a master is sardine net fishing only. See the Sardine (pilchard) sector application to change registration of master (PDF 318.5 KB).

Licence holders must have all people who will act as a boat master registered and endorsed on their licence.

Marine scalefish fishery management

Management plan:

Stock assessment reports:

Other research undertaken in the MSF:

The South Australian Research and Development Institute undertake a range of other projects to support the management of the Marine scalefish Fishery. Go to the SARDI research reports page.

Economic indicator reports:


View the Ministerial determinations.

Department of Environment

The Commonwealth Department of the Environment requires that all commercial fisheries that export product be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Product from the Marine Scalefish Fishery is currently approved for export.

Go to the South Australian fisheries page on the Department of the Environment website for more information.

Rules and regulations

The fishery is licenced under the Fisheries Management Act 2007.

Fishing activities are regulated under the:

See the Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery User Guide (PDF 5.3 MB) for more information on:

  • permitted species
  • size limits
  • commercial limits
  • gear rules
  • closures
  • licence transfers
  • demerit points.

Notices to commercial fishers

Go to the notices to commercial fishers


Jonathan McPhail
Marine Scalefish Fishery Manager
Phone: (08) 8429 0508

Executive Officer
Marine Fishers Association
Phone: 7221 1961
Mail: Post Office Box 2099, DC Port Adelaide SA 5015

Page Last Reviewed: 31 Oct 2019
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