Before fishing recreationally in NSW waters you are required by law to pay the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee and must produce the official receipt for the fee when requested to do so by a fisheries officer.
If a fisheries officer has reason to believe you were engaged, or had been engaged, or were about to engage in any fishing activity they may require you to produce for inspection the official receipt for the payment of the fee.
If the fisheries officer has reason to believe you had not paid the fishing fee when required to do so, or were not exempt from the requirement to pay the fishing fee, you may be issued with a penalty notice under section 34J(1) of the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
If you had paid the fishing fee and did not have the receipt in your immediate possession, you may be issued with a penalty notice under section 34J(2) of the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
More information is available at Recreational fishing fee (including persons exempt from the requirement to pay the fee).
Within 21 days of the date of the penalty notice being issued, you should either:
If you pay the penalty within the timeframe provided the matter is finalised and no criminal conviction is recorded against you.
If you elect to have the matter heard in court, you may receive a Court Attendance Notice (CAN). The CAN will show the attendance date and the Local Court location in NSW closest to where the alleged offence occurred.
There is no fee to have a penalty notice decided in court if you decide to court elect within the timeframe provided. However, the court may order you to pay court costs when the matter is determined and order you to pay the Department’s legal costs and witness expenses.
At court, you will be asked to enter a plea of either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. The information sent with the CAN explains this in more detail.
Depending on the number and complexity of matters listed at the court, your matter may come up for first mention at any time during the day, or be adjourned for a later date.
If you plead guilty, the matter may be dealt with on that day depending on the court. If you plead not guilty, a further hearing date will be set for you to attend court to present your case and any witnesses. The Department will also present evidence and any witnesses relating to the alleged offence.
When the matter is heard, the court may determine that you are:
You have the choice of attending court or not. If you do not wish to attend court, you should complete and submit the written notice of pleading sent to you with your CAN. That notice should be received by the court at least seven days prior to the court date.
If you or your legal advisor do not attend court on the initial date or adjourned date of hearing and have not sent a written notice of pleading to the court, the matter may be heard in your absence or a warrant for your arrest may be issued.
If the court hears the matter in your absence it will send a notice telling you the result including if there is a fine and how to pay. If you missed your court date for some reason, you can speak with the court where it was listed or seek legal assistance about your options.
If you made a court election and a CAN has not been issued you can retract your court election and pay the fine. For more information on this contact NSW DPI on (02) 6334 3844.
If the CAN has been issued, it is generally too late to withdraw the matter from court determination. However, if you have received the CAN but wish to retract your court election and pay the fine call DPI NSW Legal Services Branch to discuss your options using the contact details that came with the letter accompanying the CAN.
The Fines Division of the Revenue NSW manages the enforcement of penalty notices on behalf of NSW DPI.
If you do not pay or finalise the enforcement order by the due date Revenue NSW will take further action, including suspending your licence, registration or dealings with Road and Maritime Services.
Further information regarding enforcement orders is available at Revenue NSW.
You can get help:
If you do not understand the CAN, you should seek independent legal advice to have it explained to you. If you need an interpreter, contact the staff at the local court before your scheduled court date or phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.