Demersal fishery and licences

You must have a licence to commercially fish for demersal or bottom dwelling fish species in offshore waters in the Northern Territory (NT).

The demersal fishery is controlled by catch quote. You must hold quota before you can go fishing.


There are 18 licences currently issued in the demersal fishery.

You can apply for a new licence, but existing licences can't be bought or sold.

You may buy, sell or lease individual transferable quota.

Read more about buying, selling or leasing a commercial licence.

Fishing area

Demersal fishing is allowed from 15 nautical miles from the low water mark to the outer boundary of the Australian fishing zone, excluding the area of the Timor Reef fishery.

Fishing method

You may use any of the following fishing methods:

  • vertical lines
  • drop lines
  • finfish long-lines
  • baited fish traps
  • semi-demersal trawl nets in two multi-gear areas.

Trawl operators must use a bycatch reduction device and square mesh funnel or cod end to reduce the amount of bycatch and increase the value of the landed product.

Read more about commercial fishing in the demersal fishery in the Fisheries Regulations 1992.


The catch in the demersal fishery depends on the fishing method used eg. trap, line or trawl.

Trap catch is mainly goldband snapper and red snapper. Byproduct species include red emperor and cods.

Trawl catch is mainly saddletail snapper and crimson snapper. Byproduct species include painted sweetlip, redspot emperor and goldband snapper.

Fishery management

For more information about the demersal fishery, read the management framework PDF (431.0 KB).

Fisheries research

Go to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation website for more information on the stock status of key species.

For recent research on the stock structure of key species, read the stock/management in the NT offshore snapper fisheries.

Stock/management unit determination in the NT offshore snapper fisheries PDF (896.9 KB)
Stock/management unit determination in the NT offshore snapper fisheries DOCX (1.2 MB)

Last updated: 10 March 2022

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