New Eastern Blue Groper fishing rule changes

From 1 March 2024, taking Eastern Blue Groper by any method, including line fishing, is prohibited as part of a 12-month trial, to ensure greater protection of this iconic species.

During the 12-month trial, DPI Fisheries are consulting with stakeholders and the broader community on longer term changes to Eastern Blue Groper fishing rules. Public submissions are now open, see below for more information.

Translations of the new Eastern Blue Groper fishing rule changes (Arabic, Korean, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) (PDF, 600.17 KB).

Have your say on the recent Eastern Blue Groper rule changes

NSW DPI is encouraging the public to have their say on the 12 month trial of rule changes to Eastern Blue Groper. Submissions close 5pm 30 April 2024.

Eastern Blue Groper Consultation Form

Why is the Eastern Blue Groper a ‘no take’ species?

Following recent spearfishing incidents involving Eastern Blue Groper at Cronulla and Jervis Bay, the NSW Government has moved forward with making our state fish a ‘no take’ species in NSW.

While most fishers complied with the existing fishing rules for Eastern Blue Groper, prohibiting line fishing for a 12-month trial period means the same rules apply for all fishers. The Eastern Blue Groper has been protected from spear fishing in NSW since 1969, and from commercial fishing since 1980.

The Eastern Blue Groper is protected in Victoria (taking or possessing is prohibited). By making Blue Groper a ‘no take’ species, it will bring us into line with Victoria and ensure protection for the species across most of its natural range.

The Eastern Blue Groper has several biological characteristics that make them prone to overfishing. They are a long-lived, slow growing species that tend to live in small social groups or 'harems' comprised of one blue male, some mature females (brown or red in colour) and several juveniles (brown or green in colour) that do not travel large distances and often live in one site. Consequently, these characteristics means that they are susceptible to targeted fishing and recovery of populations is likely to take multiple decades.

Eastern Blue Groper are also of high importance to the community and were made the state fish emblem of NSW in 1998. They are an iconic species that support social and economic values in the NSW community associated with snorkelling and scuba diving. Community concern following recent spearfishing incidents has again highlighted the value that the NSW community place on the species.

It is important to note that the colouration of Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) varies based on life stage with juveniles being brown to green brown, adult females being brown to reddish-brown, whilst only adult males are blue. This is why the species can be known as blue, brown or red groper.

What will be the penalties for taking Blue Groper in NSW during the 12-month trial?

Anyone caught contravening the closure and taking Eastern Blue Groper in NSW by any method will face a $500 penalty infringement notice and/or a maximum court-imposed fines of $22,000 or imprisonment for 6 months (or both) for a first offence and $44,000 or imprisonment for 12 months (or both) for a second or subsequent offence. Please note: Any Eastern Blue Groper incidentally caught while line fishing must be released.

Given the cultural significance of the species to Aboriginal people the new changes will not apply to Aboriginal cultural fishing.

New Eastern Blue Groper fishing rule changes

Community drop in sessions

Come along to one of the drop in sessions below run by Education Officers to find out more about recreational fishing rules in NSW.

  • Coffs Harbour Jetty, Marina Drive - 16 March 2024 - 9am-12pm
  • Greenwell Point, Greenwell Point Wharf - 17 March 2024 - 9am-12pm
  • Terrigal, The Haven - 23 March 2024 - 9am-12pm
  • Sydney, Bronte, Bronte Park - 23 March 2024 - 9am-12pm
  • South Cronulla, Oak Park - 6 April 2024 - 9am-12pm
  • Jervis Bay, Woollamia Boat Ramp - 7 April 2024 - 9am-12pm

Adult male Eastern Blue Groper

Eastern Blue Groper (brown colour variation)