Safety and rules for boating and fishing in parks

This section has information about boating safety and guidelines and where you can fish in parks and reserves in the Northern Territory (NT).


Stay safe and protect the environment by following these guidelines:

  • you may need an access or camping permit for some parks before you enter to fish
  • make sure your boat and equipment meet safety laws
  • check tide charts and weather forecasts before you leave
  • you should not anchor on coral reefs
  • take care as reefs are often unmarked and uncharted and easily covered by tides
  • use a boat canopy for shade and remember that open waters can be rough.


You don't need a licence or a permit to fish in parks or reserves but you should be aware of the following:

  • fish possession limits apply in all areas
  • fish possession limits are different in special areas
  • you cannot use nets, traps, firearms or spears in most parks and reserves
  • if you use nets, traps and pots for recreational fishing outside a park or reserve you can transport them through the park on a road. They must be securely stowed and cannot be used
  • you can use a landing net for landing fish, not for any other purpose
  • you cannot use set lines
  • you can use a cast net in Cobourg Marine Park.

Be Crocwise when boating and fishing

Crocodiles are ambush predators and fatal attacks on boaters and fishers have increased in recent years.

View a Be Crocwise fact sheet PDF (571.0 KB)

Don't be complacent. Stay safe by following all of these guidelines:

  • take extreme care when launching and retrieving your boat
  • remember, the smaller the boat the greater the risk
  • stay alert for saltwater crocodiles at all times
  • do not sleep on your boat overnight or camp near the water's edge
  • remember that crocodiles will see you before you see them
  • you should not clean fish within 50m of a water body unless using a designated fish cleaning facility
  • if you must clean fish out to sea, do so 1km offshore
  • dispose of fish waste by returning it to deep waters, placing it in bins, or taking it away
  • remember that crocodiles move around throughout the year
  • always report problem crocodiles no matter their size
  • read more about crocodile safety
  • read more about stinger or box jellyfish safety.

Where to fish in parks and reserves

If a park is not listed below, fishing or boating is not permitted or recommended.

You can also view information about boating and fishing in parks PDF (1.6 MB).

Park or reserve Recreational fishing and boating allowed Fishing site Restrictions Access permit required
Casuarina Coastal ReserveYes with restrictions Rapid Creek fishing platform Lee Point Rocks
Buffalo Creek Rock Bar (south of boat ramp)
You cannot anchor or fish at 'Old Man Rock', a sacred site. No
Howard Springs Hunting ReserveYes Howard River No No
Shoal Bay Coastal ReserveYes Howard River Beach No No
Tree Point Conservation ReserveYes Howard River Beach No No
Garig Gunak Barlu National Park and Cobourg Marine Park Yes with restrictions There are zones in the park for recreational and commercial fishing. Port Essington is a popular place to fish. Land-based fishing from beaches, rocky headlands and Caiman Creek. You can fish from your boat in mangrove creeks.

You cannot fish within:

  • 500m of Sandy Islands 1 and 2
  • Coral Bay
  • buffer zones at Aboriginal outstations
  • pearling leases at Knocker, Bremmer and Raffles Bay
  • conservation and scientific zones.
See parks sites for permit details.
Djukbinj National ParkYes Scott's Creek
Cape Hotham
No No
Manton Dam Recreation ReserveYes with restrictions The majority of the dam is open to fishing. You cannot fish from the dam wall. No
Douglas River Esplanade Conservation Reserve Yes with restrictions River bank fishing is allowed. Access may be seasonal. There is no boat launch. You must get access permission from the research farm. No
Mary River National ParkYes

Land-based fishing is allowed.

  • Freshwater: Mary River Crossing, Mary River Billabong, Hardies Crossing, Corroboree Billabong, Rockhole, Shady Camp (freshwater)
  • Saltwater: Shady Camp (saltwater), Stuart’s Tree Fishing Camp.
Follow rules for the Mary River fish management zone. No
Channel Point Coastal ReserveYes with restrictions - Strictly no access to Peron Islands or Channel Point Community without a permit from the Northern Land Council. Yes - you need a permit for Channel Point.

Park or reserve

Recreational fishing and boating allowed

Fishing site Restrictions Access permit required
Elsey National Park Yes with restrictions Roper River: 4 Mile, 11 Mile, 12 Mile - Jalmurark Campground, Korwan (Mataranka Falls), Little Roper - end of Botanic Walk, Wabalarr and Mururark have deep waterholes that can be fished from the riverbank, Waterhouse River - adjacent to the Mataranka thermal pools. You are not allowed to fish at Bitter Springs, Mataranka Thermal Pools, or Stevie’s Hole. No
Nitmiluk National Park

Yes with restrictions

First Gorge - seasonal restrictions apply. You are not allowed to fish in the Second Gorge (due to a sacred site), or from park infrastructure such as the jetty and the boat ramp at Katherine Gorge. You also can not fish at Leliyn (Edith Falls). Yes
Limmen National Park and Limmen Bight Marine Park Yes You can fish at Roper River, Towns River, Limmen River and Cox River. You cannot fish at Butterfly Falls. No
Barranyi (North Island) National Park

Yes with restrictions

The Sir Edward Pellew Island group is a popular area for anglers. This is a sacred site and restrictions apply - obey all signs. No
Giwining / Flora River Nature Park

Yes with restrictions

You can fish the deep river from the bank at Djarrung Falls, Kathleen Falls and across from the boat launch. No No
Judbarra /Gregory National Park Yes You can fish on the water at Victoria River.
You can fish from riverbanks at Victoria River across from the concrete boat ramps at Big Horse Creek, Old Victoria River Crossing, East Baines River at Limestone Creek, Drovers Rest and Bullita campground, along the Humbert and Wickham Rivers, along Jasper Creek within Jasper Gorge, and at the waterhole beside Sullivan Creek campground.
No No

Park or reserve

Recreational fishing and boating allowed

Fishing siteRestrictions Access permit required
Iytwelepenty / Davenport Ranges National Park Yes with restrictions You can only fish at the Old Police Station Waterhole. You can only fish at the Old Police Station Waterhole. No

Last updated: 09 August 2021

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