Possession limits for fish
A possession limit is the maximum number of fish you may have in your possession, though you should take only enough for your immediate needs.
The maximum number of fish you may have in your possession at any time, other than at your permanent place of residence, is 15 fish.
This limit is also known as a general personal possession limit.
Maximum possession limits apply for species which are exempt from 15-fish limits, for example crabs and crustaceans.
There are also personal possession limits which apply to the number of people on your boat.
These possession limits:
- help make recreational catches sustainable
- share catches fairly among the fishery sectors
- reduce local over-fishing
- help stop the illegal sale of fish.
This page summarises your possession limits in the Northern Territory (NT). You can also download a reference guide to recreational fishing controls in the form of the Know your limits booklet .
If you need information on particular fish, read about fish species.
As part of your 15-fish limit, you must only have this many of the following kinds of fish.
|Fish||Personal possession limit||At risk species with a vessel limit||Special controls and key information|
|Golden snapper||3||Yes||Not suitable for catch and release in water 10m+, prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Black jewfish||2||Yes||Not suitable for catch and release in water 10m+, prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
55cm minimum overall length NT-wide, minimum fillet length 27cm.|
Kakadu National Park, Mary River Fish Management Zone and Daly River Fish Management Zone: 90cm maximum size limit. Three per person possession limit and vessel limit of 1 fish over 90cm overall length.
|King threadfin||3||No||Kakadu National Park, Mary River Fish Management Zone and Daly River Fish Management Zone: 90cm maximum fork length, vessel limit of one fish over 90cm fork length.|
|Mangrove jack||3||Yes||35cm minimum length. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Spanish mackerel||2||No||Sensitive to handling. Use barbless hooks for catch and release fishing.|
|Red snappers saddletail, crimson, Indonesian||10||No||Any combination to a limit of 10|
|Grass emperor or Tricky snapper.||5||Yes||Prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Stripey snapper or Spanish flag||5||Yes||Prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Moses perch or Russell’s snapper||5||Yes||Prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Cod and groper||5||Yes||120cm maximum length. Prone to barotrauma. Vessel limit applies, see the note about vessel limits at the bottom of this page.|
|Sharks excluding protected species||3||No||Any combination to a limit of three. Sawfish, northern river and speartooth sharks are protected and must not be taken.|
|Marlin and sailfish||1||No||n/a|
|All other fish species not subject to specific individual limits|
In addition to your 15 fish general personal possession limit, a maximum personal limit applies for all of the following species.
|Species exempt from the 15 fish general possession limit||Personal possession limits||Special controls and key information|
Vessel limit of 30 when three or more people are on board. Shell width 13cm for males and 14cm for females. Five marine pots or dillies per person. Ten marine pots or dillies per vessel when two or more people are on board.
Females with eggs must be released unharmed.
Mud crabs must remain intact after being caught until they are at your personal residence (unless they are being eaten immediately).
|Crabs (other than mud crab)||30||n/a|
|Freshwater crustaceans - cherabin and redclaw combined||30||Daly River Fish Management Zone: A combined vessel limit of 90 when three or more people are on board with a maximum limit of 30 cherabin. A combined personal possession limit of 30 which includes a maximum limit of 10 cherabin. Three freshwater pots or dillies per person. Six freshwater pots or dillies per vessel when two or more people are on board. Females with eggs must be released unharmed.|
|Tropical rock lobster||5||Vessel limit of 15 when three or more people are on board. Tropical rock lobster must not be taken using underwater breathing equipment.|
|Whiting and/or mullet and/or garfish (combined)||50||n/a|
|Pilchards and/or sardines and/or herring (combined)||100||n/a|
|Molluscs||10 litres (in shell)||Giant clams are protected and must not be taken|
|Saltwater prawns (all species combined)||10 litres (intact in shell)||n/a|
|Octopus, cuttlefish and squid (combined)||30||n/a|
On vessels with four or less people on board, each person may take their personal possession limit.
Vessels with five to seven people on board can take a maximum of four times the personal possession limit of at-risk species. The rest of the general possession limit may include other fish.
Vessels with eight or more people on board can take a maximum of eight times the personal possession limit of at-risk species. The rest of the general possession limit may include other fish species.
You must not possess any of these protected species:
- all species of cod or groper longer than 1.2m
- northern river and speartooth sharks
- giant clams.
Protected species must be released unharmed.
A personal possession limit applies to swim bladders that have been removed from fish.
You are allowed a personal possession limit of two detached swim bladders (any species) at your home.
This is to help protect reef fish such as black jewfish that are at risk of illegal fishing.
A possession limit stops people from stocking up on swim bladders and trading them illegally.
These limits should not affect the way you usually process your catch.
Rules for removing swim bladders
You must not possess a detached swim bladder anywhere outside of your home.
Your home must be a permanent residence. That means a place with a fixed address which can be proven by photographic evidence or similar.
It does not include temporary accommodation such as caravans or tents.
If you intend to keep a swim bladder to eat, you must keep it inside the fish until you are back at home.
If you process fish away from your home, you must immediately throw away any swim bladders.
Last updated: 07 February 2020
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