Aboriginal coastal fishing licences

If you live in a remote community and you want to fish and sell the fish you catch, you can apply for an Aboriginal coastal licence.

This licence allows you to catch fish near your community and sell them.

Who can apply

If you're an Aboriginal person living full time in an Aboriginal community and have the agreement and support of your community, you can apply for this licence.

For more information, read the Northern Territory (NT) Fisheries Regulations 1992.

What you can do with a licence

With this licence you can:

  • catch and sell fish to most people, such as community members, visitors, community shops or fish wholesalers
  • use the fishing gear listed below.

Fishing gear

You must only use the following fishing gear:

  • up to 100m of net with mesh size up to 65mm
  • hand spear
  • scoop net
  • vertical line as handline or rod and reel
  • a traditional fish trap - you need special approval for this.

Report your catch

You must report what and how many fish you catch, and how much you sell at the end of each month.

You will be sent the reporting sheets once your licence is approved.

You must fill in these sheets and send them to NT Fisheries by mail, email or fax every month, even if you have not been fishing.

What you can't do

You're not allowed to do any of the following with this licence:

  • hold a commercial fishing licence
  • operate an Aboriginal coastal licence while working as a crew member of a commercial fishing boat
  • transfer the licence to anyone else
  • target barramundi, king threadfin, Spanish mackerel, mud crab or trepang.

How to apply

To apply, you must follow these steps:

Step 1. Fill in the Aboriginal coastal licence form.

Aboriginal coastal licence form DOCX (66.2 KB)

Aboriginal coastal licence form PDF (220.8 KB)

Step 2. Take the form to your land council or community group to fill in another part of the form.

Step 3. Get support from your community group's leader of the area where you will fish. They will need to fill in the relevant section of the form.

Step 3. Get all of the following:

  • a map of the area you want to fish
  • identification such as a driver licence or proof of age card
  • a $50 cheque or money order made out to the Receiver of Territory Monies (RTM).

Your land council may be able to help you with these documents.

To use a fish trap you need special approval. For more information, contact NT Fisheries.

Step 4. Post the form, supporting documents and the cheque or money order to:

NT Fisheries
Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade
GPO Box 3000
Darwin NT 0800

Step 5. Complete an interview with NT Fisheries to show you understand all the licence rules, conditions and safe fishing practices.

You should also complete the Certificate II in Fishing Operations and develop a business plan.

For more information on this course, call NT Fisheries 08 8999 2144.

Commercial rules you must follow

You must also follow some commercial fishing rules for your licence including:

  • submit a monthly log sheet
  • don't fish in reef protection zones
  • don't set nets in creeks or rivers
  • no fishing in sacred sites.

These rules will be explained to you by NT Fisheries before you're given your licence.


For more information, contact NT Fisheries:


Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade
GPO Box 3000
Darwin NT 0800

Phone: 08 8999 2144
Fax: 08 8999 2065

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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