Offshore net and line fishery

The offshore net and line fishery is a quota managed fishery.

It operates in Northern Territory (NT) waters from the low water mark to the boundary of the Australian fishing zone (AFZ).


You must have a licence to fish commercially in the NT's offshore waters.

The fishery has no restrictions on a number of licences issued. You can apply for a new licence but existing licences cannot be sold.

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

You can operate in all NT waters from the low water mark to the boundary of the AFZ, about 200 nautical miles offshore - an area of more than 522,000km2.

Most fishing is done in the coastal zone within 12 nautical miles of the coast, and immediately offshore in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

You may use demersal or pelagic long lines or pelagic nets.

Bottom-set gillnets are prohibited.

There are restrictions on where certain gear can be used.

Demersal long lines

Demersal long lines may be used from the low water mark to the AFZ.

Pelagic long lines

Pelagic long lines may be used three nautical miles seaward from the territorial sea baseline to the boundary of the AFZ.


A boat may put out up to 15 nautical miles of long lines at once, with up to 1000 hooks in total.

Automated baiting gear must not be used.

Pelagic nets

Pelagic nets can be used from two nautical miles from the low water mark to the boundary of the AFZ.

Nets can be up to 2000m long.

Mesh size is between 160mm and 185mm.

Drop length is 50 to 100 meshes.

Nets are weighted and must have a buoyed headline.

Black-tip sharks and grey mackerel are the primary species taken in off-shore net and line fishing.

Other shark species caught are hammerhead, bull, tiger, pigeye, lemon and winghead sharks and dusky whalers.

Other byproduct catch includes Spanish mackerel, longtail tuna, black pomfret and other finfish.

To find out more about the proposed management arrangements for the NT offshore net and line fishery, go to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade website.

An assessment to identify the ecological risks of the fishery is now available.

The report identifies species, habitats or communities at risk from the effects of fishing.

It also identifies issues that must be further managed.

To find out more about the risk ratings and management read the:

NT Offshore Net and Line fishery ecological assessment 2020 DOCX (698.8 KB)
NT Offshore Net and Line fishery ecological assessment 2020 PDF (1.0 MB)

Last updated: 16 February 2021

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