The NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 requires NSW Fisheries to conserve, develop and share NSW’s fishery resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
In doing so NSW Fisheries is required to: conserve fish stocks and key fish habitats; conserve threatened species, populations and ecological communities of fish and marine vegetation; and promote ecologically sustainable development and the conservation of biological diversity.
Consistent with these objectives NSW Fisheries is required to promote viable commercial and aquaculture industries, promote quality recreational fishing opportunities, and appropriately share fisheries resources between the users of those resources.
In developing fisheries management rules the NSW Government recognises the importance of ecologically sustainable development and the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle holds that where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing management measures.
The marine and estuarine recreational charter fishing boat sector provides a unique service and enhances the fishing opportunities of recreational anglers. It provides fishing expertise and well-equipped boats to enable recreational anglers to maximise their fishing success across a range of fishing types and species, and to access areas not normally available to them.
Recent studies, which includes the analysis of logbook data, have shown that the charter fishing boat sector involves hundreds of boats, catering to tens of thousands of anglers, with the potential to take large numbers of fish and to have a significant impact on fish stocks.
Recreational charter fishing boat operators derive a profit from the use of fishery resources and significantly enhance the catch of recreational anglers by hiring out their knowledge and equipment to recreational fishers.
A key objective of charter boat management is to integrate the management of the recreational charter fishing boat sector into the overall management of NSW fish stocks. As many fish stocks are at or near full exploitation there is a need to ensure that the charter fishing boat sector, along with the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, is included in management arrangements for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of fish stocks.
Since May 1997 there has been extensive consultation with charter fishing boat operators about how best to incorporate the marine and estuarine charter fishing sector into NSW Fisheries’ management arrangements to ensure the conservation and sustainable utilisation of fish stocks by multiple user groups throughout the state. Consultation included various rounds of port meetings with charter operators along the NSW coast, distribution of a comprehensive discussion paper to all identified operators and several meetings of the Charter Fishing Boat Industry Review Group (CBIRG), which was established to oversee the development of management arrangements for this sector.
Current industry consultation is carried out by the Charter Fishing New South Wales Working Group (CFNSW) formed in 2018
To facilitate efficient management of the marine and estuarine recreational charter fishing boat sector, four categories of charter fishing have been identified:
The NSW marine and estuarine recreational charter fishing boat fleet consists of many different sized vessels, which target and catch a great variety of fish species, and can move from port to port in response to seasonal and tourist demand.
During 1997/1998, 211 operators were identified who managed 249 charter fishing boats. The majority of these operators (86%) managed a single vessel (refer Table 1). It should also be noted that many charter fishing operations operate on a seasonal or part-time basis.
A total of 42 ports/sites within NSW were used by charter operators for access to the coastal fishery during 1997/98. Thirty-three of these ports/sites were nominated by these charter fishing boat operators as their main ports of operation. In all some 142 boats, or about 58% of the NSW charter fishing boat fleet, operate from a single port throughout 1997/98, while the other 102 boats, or 42% of the fleet, indicated that they had used one or more ports of operation throughout the year.
Number of Boats Managed
Number of Operators
% of Total Operators
% of Total of Fleet
Total number of boats
Whilst the management of guided recreational charter fishing activities in marine parks will come under management plans currently being developed by the Marine Parks Authority, a recreational charter fishing boat licence will provide the basis for management of these activities. NSW Fisheries is co-operating in this process and is seeking to achieve complementary administrative arrangements in the management of charter fishing activities.
The management of guided recreational charter fishing activities in aquatic reserves will be the responsibility of NSW Fisheries.
An essential aim of fisheries management is to be able to control fishing catch and effort. Consequently, management of the marine and estuarine recreational charter fishing boat sector may employ a range of fisheries management measures to control fishing effort. Such measures may include, but not be limited to, controls over:
Specific charter boat management objectives to assist with the conservation of fish stocks include:
The aim of the Ministerial Warnings against further investment in the recreational charter fishing boat sector was to cap the number of recreational charter fishing boats to that existing on the 22 October 1997, and the associated fishing effort by limiting:
NSW Fisheries recognises that there may be the potential for a conflict of interest when commercial and recreational charter fishing activities are conducted as parts of the one fishing operation. During the review process many recreational charter fishing boat operators have expressed this concern.
It is proposed to gradually limit the number of dual commercial and charter fishing operations to those operating on or before 4 August 1999. No new dual operations were permitted after 4 August 1999.
The Fisheries Management Act 1994 makes provision for licensed commercial fishing boats to also be licensed as recreational charter fishing boats. It is a condition of any such charter fishing boat licence that:
Only those charter fishing boat operators who conducted dual commercial/charter fishing operations, on or before the 4 August 1999, were eligible to apply for a transferable or non-transferable charter fishing boat licence.
A dual operator wishing to sell their dual commercial/charter fishing operation cannot sell it as a dual operation. Such operators may, however, sell either the commercial or the charter fishing component separately.
The intention of this schedule is to include those deepwater species that are keenly targeted by commercial fishers and charter boat fishers. These taxa are those most likely to be overexploited by the combined effects of commercial and recreational fishing.
The intention of this schedule is to include large gamefish species, such as, billfishes, large species of tunas, and large species of sharks that are targeted by charter boats that specialise in gamefish fishing. These taxa are the main targets of the gamefish fishery.
Southern bluefin tuna
The intention of this schedule is to include all the main overlap species that are commonly targeted by both the gamefish fishery AND the nearshore bottom and sport fishery. These taxa may also be targeted in the estuarine fishery.
Yellowtail, jack mackerel, trevallies, rainbow runner, kingfish, samson fish, amberjacks.
Mackerels, wahoo, bonitos, skipjack tuna, mackerel tuna
(excluding Thunnus spp.)
Whaler sharks, blue shark
(excluding Galeocerdo cuvier)
Barracudas, snook, striped seapike
All other fish taxa (excluding protected species and those listed in Schedules 1, 2, and 3).