Recreational fishing activities

Recreational fisher - image credit GBRMPA - Phil Laycock

Know your zones

Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities in Queensland and an important pastime on the Great Barrier Reef. Fishing is a source of income for Queensland coastal communities, and many residents and tourists go fishing for pleasure.

Line fishing and trolling

Zoning within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park allows for:

  • Line fishing in the General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones
  • Limited line fishing in a Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone (one hand-held rod or one hand-held line per person, with no more than one hook attached to that line)
  • Trolling in the General Use (Light Blue) Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones with limits on the number of lines and hooks per person
  • Trolling for pelagic species in the Buffer (Olive Green) Zone with limits on the number of lines and hooks per person.

Bait netting

Bait netting is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones. Bait netting means the use of a net of dimension and mesh size as prescribed in relevant Queensland fisheries legislation. For further detail see the Great Barrier Reef Regulations 2019.

Crabbing (trapping)

Crabbing (trapping) may be undertaken by recreational fishers using no more than four apparatus per person in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones.

Crabbing (trapping) is using apparatus such as crab pots, collapsible traps or dillies of the number and dimensions prescribed in Queensland fisheries legislation. Please refer to the Queensland Government's Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004 for additional Queensland legislation for crabbing.

Spearfishing

Limited spearfishing is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) and Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones.

Limited spearfishing means fishing with a spear or speargun, NOT using a powerhead, or firearm, a light or underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel.

However, all spearfishing is prohibited in those Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones that are also declared Public Appreciation Special Management Areas. These areas are shown as broken pink lines on the zoning maps.

Under Queensland fisheries legislation additional spearfishing closures exist in the following General Use (Light Blue) and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:

  • On the western and southern foreshores of Great Keppel and North Keppel Island - these areas extend 400m from the coastline
  • The foreshores and waters seaward 50m from low water mark from the boat ramp in Greys Bay around Cape Edgecumbe to the eastern headland of Horseshoe Bay

Visit the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website for more information on closed waters and spearfishing restrictions.

Limited collecting

If you are visiting a General Use (Light Blue), Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) or Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone in the Marine Park, you may generally collect up to five shells, fish or invertebrates of any one species by hand or hand-held implement. Collecting is not permitted in other zones. Please check zoning maps for the area you are visiting before collecting, together with limitations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 .

To collect greater numbers of species or to collect coral, you require a specific Marine Parks permit. There are some species of shells, fish and invertebrates that are protected and may not be collected.

You must not collect any coral (alive or dead) without a permit. On national park islands and within Commonwealth Island Zone everything is protected, including shells.