Bowfishing for Carp

What is bowfishing

Bowfishing is a crossover between fishing and hunting. Bowfishers use specialised archery equipment (fishing arrows and reels attached to traditional recurve and compound bows) to shoot and retrieve fish.

Bowfishing is allowed in coastal waters but not in inland waters under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act). It's is a legal and popular activity in several Australian states and in other countries.

What are Carp?

Carp are an introduced freshwater species that are a noxious fish in NSW.

They have a significant impact on freshwater ecosystems as they damage vegetation, compete with native fish and degrade water quality.

Read more about the damaging effects of Carp.

Bowfishing for Carp in specific inland waterways trial

An 18-month restricted trial of bowfishing for Carp in specific inland waterways will run from December 2015 to June 2017. The trial is managed by the DPI Game Licensing Unit and Fisheries division under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act).

A thorough risk assessment was carried out for the trial (PDF, 2956.88 KB). The conditions that bowfishers need to abide by were identified as part of this process.

Download Primefact 1424 for a summary of the trial.

Section 37 permits

While bowfishing is permitted in some coastal waters, it is prohibited in inland waters outside of this trial. This is because the use of a bow and arrow to take fish comes under the definition of spearfishing (the use of a spear gun to take fish) in the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010.

To allow legal bowfishing for the trial program, a permit is issued to approved bowfishers under Section 37 of the Act. A Section 37 permit is required for any activity that involves taking or possessing fish or marine vegetation that would otherwise be unlawful under the Act.

The special provisions in Section 37 mean that a permit can be issued that allows the holder to legally bowfish in inland waters, but only as part of this trial and only if they follow all of the permit conditions. Each permit expires at the end of the trial in June 2017.

How to apply

You can apply for a Section 37 permit to bowfish (PDF, 86.92 KB) if you:

When you receive your permit, you'll receive a starter kit with the NSW Bowfishing Guide, a blaze orange cap and details about how to lodge an intention to bowfish online.

Junior applicants

Juniors (over 12 and under 18 years old) can take part in the trial if they:

An adult holding a Section 37 permit and an intention to bowfish must supervise junior bowfishers at all times.

Intention to bowfish

Your bowfishing starter kit has information about how to login to the Bowfishing portal and notify us each time you want to bowfish at an approved trial location. This notification is called an Intention to bowfish.

Each time you want to bowfish you need to:

  • lodge your intention to bowfish no later than 48 hours before you bowfish.
  • nominate whether you will be bowfishing from land, from a boat or both.
  • if you intend to bowfish from a boat, you'll need to give us some details such as boat type, registration and name of the boat.
  • print the intention summary (you need to carry this with you while bowfishing).
  • print a map of the area/s you intend to bowfish.

You can also download electronic area maps for your smartphone (using the Avenza application) or GPS device.

Bowfishing report

Once you have bowfished, you need to login to the Bowfishing portal again and submit a Bowfishing catch/ incident report.

This is important information that will help us evaluate the program.

The return will ask you about the number of fish caught, whether you saw or harvested any native species and if there were any safety or other issues you encountered while bowfishing.

Report illegal bowfishing

If you see or suspect illegal fishing, report the activity to the Fishers Watch Phoneline, 1800 043 536. You can also make a report online.

How the program will be evaluated

When the trial ends in June 2017, we will look at the information we've collected to analyse and report on the results. Some of this information will come from a survey of bowfishers who took part in the trial.

Important areas that we'll consider include:

  • How many bowfishers participated.
  • Whether there were any economic benefits for the State.
  • Whether participants complied with the rules.
  • The number of Carp removed from NSW inland waterways.
  • Any impacts on native species.
  • Whether there were any safety incidents.
  • The types of interactions bowfishers had with other waterway users.