Charter fishing in NSW

Charter boat

Charter boat operators providing fishing trips for anglers in NSW need a licence to operate their business.

Under a scheme regulated by NSW DPI, they're also required to keep comprehensive records of catches.

Managing the industry in this way, we're able to protect fisheries resources for the future.

Why was licensing introduced?

The charter fishing boat industry is an important regional industry and a significant commercial user of the community-owned fish resources.

The licensing scheme, which came into effect in the year 2000, followed three years of extensive consultation with the charter fishing boat industry and the community.

It was introduced to ensure the industry develops in a way that allows fish stocks to be managed in a sustainable manner.

The licensing scheme ensures there are no uncontrolled increases in charter fishing boat pressure on fish stocks - this benefits everyone - charter fishing boat operators, recreational fishers, divers and commercial fishers.

Licence exemption for anglers

Recreational fishers may not need a licence if they're fishing on a charter boat.

Most charter boat operators have purchased an exemption certificate, which allows their customers to fish without an individual fishing licence. The purchase price of the exemption certificate is paid into the Recreational Fishing Trusts as a contribution to better fishing by the charter operator and his/her customers.

If you're a recreational fisher, you should check if the charter fishing boat operator has an exemption certificate before you go fishing. If the operator is not covered by an exemption, you must have a licence, unless you're exempt.

What if I want to start up a charter fishing boat business?

If you want to start up a charter fishing boat business, you'll need a charter fishing boat licence. It's unlawful to carry out a charter fishing boat business without one.

You can buy a charter fishing boat licence from an existing licence holder - most are transferable. Contact NSW DPI Charter Fishing Licensing section on (02) 44247400 if you want to discuss this further.

The law doesn't allow NSW DPI to issue new licences. New charter fishing boat licences have only been issued to people who were charter fishing boat operators before the introduction of the regulatory controls in the year 2000. Even these operators had to meet special criteria agreed between the Government and industry representatives.

Charter Fishing NSW Working Group

NSW DPI is working in close consultation with the Charter Fishing New South Wales Working Group, CFNSW, to develop rules to manage the charter fishing sector in NSW.

This Committee is made up of representatives of charter fishing business operators.

Further information & application forms

Form CB 4 - Application for boat replacement for a licensed charter fishing boat (PDF, 139.01 KB)

Form CB 2 - Application for transfer of NSW Charter Fishing Boat Licence (PDF, 161.21 KB)

To find out more about the charter fishing boat licence, call the NSW DPI Licensing section on 1300 720 662 or email