Recreational Fishing

Header Icon

Recreational & Charter Fishing

Scroll to content




Bream top
species caught recreationally

72 %

release rate

Recreational harvest greater than commercial for


key species

Fishing Icon

Social and

Recreational and charter fishing activities generate a range of social and economic benefits. In 2017–18, fishers spent an estimated $2,219 million on recreational ($2,195 million) and charter ($24 million) activities.

Arrow left Arrow right

Integrated Monitoring Program – Charter Fishing

NSW DPI’s Integrated Monitoring Program (IMP) is collecting high quality information on recreational fisheries, and includes a Charter Fishery monitoring module. The charter module has had more than 40 operators host scientific observers who collected data on fisher demographics, fleet fishing effort, locations fished, interactions with threatened species and fish measurements for the biological sampling program.  In 6 months the program has collected information from more than 130 charter fishing trips from 14 ports along the NSW coast.

Improving fish habitats through local projects

NSW DPI has awarded $644,000 in grants to recreational angling clubs, community groups, landholders and local councils for 29 unique fish habitat projects, under the popular Habitat Action Grants Program. The projects cover coastal and inland fishing spots and will improvement local creeks, riverbanks and wetlands, which will improve fish habitats and ultimately produce more fish. There will be flow-on benefits to local communities and tourism through improved recreational fishing opportunities.

Learn more Arrow right

Estuary Perch release set for Brogo Dam

NSW DPI undertook the inaugural stocking of Estuary Perch into Brogo Dam with the release of 10,000 fingerlings. Anglers on the far south coast are set to benefit from enhanced recreational fishing amenity and opportunity. A Recreational Fishing Trust project initiative, the fish were bred at Narooma Aquaculture and released with the assistance of local fishers. During 2016-17, more than 5 million native fish and trout were stocked in freshwater areas across NSW.

Learn more Arrow right

Recreational Fishing

An estimated $2.195 billion was spent on recreational fishing trips in 2017-18, resulting in combined direct and indirect economic output in excess $3.42 billion95, z.

Catch, effort and participation rates are evaluated by surveys and are used to inform fisheries management practices. Around 850,000 people fished recreationally in 2013–14, down from around one million in 2000–01. The average number of days fished per fisher was also down to 4.3 from 5.6108.

The top five species caught by recreational fishers included four fish (bream, dusky and sand flathead and snapper) and one crustacean (saltwater nippers)108.

Top five species caught by recreational fishers

  • Bream Bream
  • Nippers (Saltwater) Nippers (Saltwater)
  • Flathead, Dusky Flathead, Dusky
  • Flathead, Sand Flathead, Sand
  • Snapper Snapper

Recreational Fishing Licences

Anglers are required to purchase a recreational fishing licence when fishing in NSW waters. Over the past 16 years, licence sales have been remarkably consistent, averaging around 500,000 per year. Licence revenue has increased, with licence fee increases in 2008–09 and 2013–14. Licence revenue is spent by NSW DPI on projects to improve the experience for recreational fishers109.


Licence Sales ('000)
Licence Revenue ($ million)
Sales Trend ('000)
Revenue ($ million)Sales
2001-02 8.1 465275
2002-03 8.4 474447
2003-04 9.0 516682
2004-0510.0 523088
2005-0610.8 504908
2006-0710.2 490532
2007-0810.8 488013
2008-0913.4 528235
2009-1013.2 544175
2010-1112.4 480731
2011-1213.9 520000
2012-1313.1 541000
2013-1415.6 531000
2014-1515.6 504000
2015-1615.8 512000
2016-1715.4 477576


Note: recreational harvest weights are indicative only

Estimating the weight (tonnes) of the recreational catch (caught and kept) showed that, for five of ten key species, a majority of the total harvest weight was attributable to recreational rather than commercial fishing - specifically Dusky Flathead, Sand Flathead, Mulloway, Tailor  and Yellowtail Kingfish108.

Source: DPI (2018h)

Charter Fishing

The charter fishing sector became a restricted access fishery in 2000, with 276 licenses issued. The number of anglers taking charter trips and the associated industry turnover (estimated) has not changed notably since that time110, ab.

An estimated $24 million was spent on charter fishing fees and non-charter items, such as food and accommodation in 2017-18, with approximately half of the expenditure coming from charter fishing fees alone. This expediture output was found to result in a total direct and indirect economic output in excess of $50 million52, z.


Charter Anglers
Gross annual turnover
Charter Anglers Trend