Coastal net fishery and licences

You must have a licence to net fish commercially in coastal waters in the Northern Territory (NT).


This fishery is restricted to five licences, all of which are already allocated. 

Licences can’t currently be bought, sold or leased.

Read more, and download forms, for commercial fishing licences.

Fishing area

The fishery extends from the high water mark to three nautical miles out from the low water mark. 

The fishery is divided into regions and you can only fish in the region or regions nominated on your licence.

The regions include:

  • Darwin – from Cape Hotham to Native Point and Cape Ford to Cape Dooley
  • Gove – between Cape Arnhem and Cape Wilberforce
  • Borroloola – from Bing Bong Creek and Pelican Spit.

You are not allowed to fish in reef fish protection areas. Read more about reef fish protection areas.

Access may be restricted around registered Aboriginal sacred sites and protected areas. Visit the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority website for more information about these areas.

Fishing method

You can use a net that meets all of the following criteria:

  • up to 300m long
  • a maximum drop of five metres
  • a mesh size of  65 mm or less
  • is anchored at one end only. 

You can also use a cast net with a maximum 6m with and a mesh size up to 25mm. 

You must clear your nets in water more than 30 cm deep to help the release of bycatch.


Mullet is the primary species taken in the coastal net fishery.

A number of byproduct species are also taken including blue threadfin, sharks, queenfish, garfish, snapper and whiting.

You must not take barramundi, king threadfin, Spanish mackerel or mud crab under a coastal net licence.

Last updated: 27 July 2021

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