Timor Reef fishery and licences

You must have a licence to commercially fish for demersal or bottom-dwelling fish species in the area of the Timor Reef Fishery in the Northern Territory (NT).

The Timor Reef fishery is controlled by catch quota. You must hold quota before you can go fishing in the Timor Reef fishery.


There are 15 licences currently issued in the Timor Reef fishery.

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

Commercial fishers can buy, sell and lease individual transferable quota.

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

Fishing area

Commercial fishing is allowed in a remote region known as the Timor Box.

This area extends north-west of Darwin to the Western Australia/NT border and to the outer boundary of the Australian fishing zone 200 nautical miles offshore.

The fishery has an area of approximately 8400 square nautical miles.

Fishing method

You can use all of the following methods in the Timor Reef:

  • vertical lines
  • drop lines attached to or free from a vessel
  • finfish long-lines
  • baited fish-traps.

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


The majority of the catch is taken using baited traps.

Goldband snapper is the primary species taken.

Other key species include saddle-tail snapper, crimson snapper, red emperor and cods.

Byproduct species include small snappers such as:

  • moses snapper and darktail snapper
  • rock cods
  • redspot emperor
  • Robinsons seabream.

Fishery management

For more information about the Timor Reef fishery, read the management framework PDF (439.5 KB).

Fisheries research

For information on the stock status of key species, go to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation website.

You can also get the stock/management in the NT offshore snapper fisheries for recent research on the stock structure of key species.

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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