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Show Bioregions

Prawns (group)

Family Penaeidae (Western school and western king prawns pictured)

Minimum size (mm)
No minimum size limit applies to species in this group
Daily bag limit
Litres (all species combined)

Fishing for this species from a powered boat requires a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL).

An RFBL is required for any fishing activity from a powered boat including:

  • line fishing (handline, rod and line, squid jigging);
  • catching crabs;
  • spearfishing;
  • catching octopus;
  • dip-netting for prawns; and
  • fishing by diving and/or snorkelling.

You require an RFBL for these fishing activities even if you are returning your catch to the water.

You also require an RFBL when a powered boat is used to transport your catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location, including an island or sandbar.

You don’t need an RFBL if you are:

  • Fishing from a boat without a motor; such as a row boat.
  • Fishing from a licensed fishing tour operator’s vessel or fishing charter boat.
  • Fishing with a person who holds an RFBL, provided the total catch of everyone on board the boat stays within the bag limit(s) or boat limit(s) of the one or more fishers who hold an RFBL.
  • Taking part in a fishing activity for which you already hold a current licence, such as rock lobster or abalone fishing. For example, if you have a licence to fish for rock lobster and that is the only fishing activity that is taking place on the boat, you don’t need an RFBL.

How to get a licence

Apply for a new licence or renew an existing licence online.  

Alternatively, application forms are available from Department of Fisheries offices and online.

Note: If you are boat fishing for demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion you must carry a release weight on board.

Additional rules and information

Size limits allow fish to reach maturity to complete their breeding cycle. Measure all your fish and return undersize or excess fish alive to the water.

Bag limits assist in sharing the resource and contribute to the sustainable management of the State’s fish stocks.

A daily bag limit is the maximum number of fish that you may take or bring onto land in any 24-hour period, from midnight to midnight (except from midday to midday for marron, prawns and when recreational netting).

For rules about fish kept and stored beyond 24 hours, see 'Possession limit' for details.

Individual species daily bag limit

This is the maximum number of an individual species that you may take within your total mixed species daily bag limit.

For demersal finfish, large pelagic finfish and nearshore/esturarine finfish, an individual daily bag limit for a group of species applies to each of the individual species in that group. 

For example, emperors (except blue-lined emperor) have an individual daily bag limit of three in all bioregions except the West Coast. They are also within a mixed species daily bag limit of five (across all demersal scalefish for these bioregions).

Mixed species daily bag limit

This is the combined maximum number of fish of any species within one category (such as demersal, large pelagic, nearshore/estuarine) that you may take.

For example, demersal finfish in the West Coast Bioregion has a total mixed bag limit of two fish:

Within the mixed daily bag limit, you cannot exceed the stated individual species daily bag limit. For example, you may only take a maximum of one coral trout per day.

For freshwater finfish, baitfish, crustceans, molluscs and other invertebrates - where species are displayed together as a group, rock lobsters for example - the bag limit applies to the group as a whole.

To protect fish and their habitats in key environments, some activities are banned. In particular you are not allowed to:

  • use fish traps or ‘pots’ of any kind (except lobster pots and octopus trigger traps – see the website for further information);
  • use dredges;
  • obstruct any bay, inlet, river, creek or any tidal or inland waters so that fish are enclosed, left stranded, destroyed or wasted;
  • be in possession of explosives or noxious substances (for example, fish poisons);
  • ‘jag’ (deliberately foul-hook) fish;
  • use commercial fishing gear of any kind;
  • use set-lines; or
  • attach fish hooks to lobster pots, anchors and anchor lines or moorings.

Note: Fishing tackle stores may carry gear that does not meet WA legal requirements. In particular, the use of crab traps, ‘opera house’ traps and bait jigs with more than three hooks are illegal in WA waters. Please check before you make a purchase.

This species does not have a specific boat limit, so bag limits apply when fishing from a boat.

A fisher who does not hold a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) can fish with the use of a powered boat if at least one person on board the boat has an RFBL.

This is allowed provided the total catch of everyone on board stays within the bag limit(s) of the one or more fishers who hold an RFBL. This only applies to the RFBL and not to other fishing licences.

The master of the boat must ensure these rules are followed.

Species with a specific boat limit

Boat limits apply for demersal scalefish, blue swimmer crabsmud crabssquid, octopus, cuttlefishgreenlip/brownlip abalone and rock lobster. 

There is a mixed species demersal scalefish boat limit of 4 in the West Coast Bioregion.

A boat limit is the maximum number of fish of a species or group of species that may be on a boat or attached to a boat at any one time.

This limit applies regardless of how long the vessel is at sea.

The FishWatch phone line provides a quick and easy way to report sightings or evidence of:

  • illegal fishing;
  • aquatic pests; and
  • aquatic diseases (including fish kills).

You can also report illegal or suspicious fishing activities via our online form

Illegal fishing could include someone netting in the river, exceeding their bag or possession limits, taking undersize fish, fishing in a closed area, having more fishing gear in the water than they should or illegally selling recreationally caught fish.

Before you call or report online, note:

  • How many people you saw.
  • Who they were. Did you hear/know any of their names?
  • What they were doing.
  • Where it happened; the nearest known landmark or intersection of the closest road.
  • What type of equipment, cars or boats, registration numbers and descriptions.
  • When it happened: time and date. Is it something that is happening right now, while you are making a report, or was it something you observed previously?

Your reports are treated in strict confidence. We recommend you do not approach anyone you think is involved in illegal activity relating to fish or fishing.

If you don’t wish to contact us through FishWatch you can pass information to your local Fisheries office or to Fisheries Officers.

Call FishWatch now - 1800 815 507.

Interfering with another person's fishing gear or catch, selling recreationally caught fish and other similar offences can result in penalties of up to $400,000, imprisonment for four years and loss of boats, vehicles and equipment.

Offenders may also lose the privilege of engaging in a licensed fishing activity.

Prawns can be legally caught using:

  • single hand-dip net;
  • single hand-scoop net;
  • single hand-throw net (Note: throw nets are not permitted in some areas such as the Swan and Canning rivers – see our recreational net fishing guide for details); or
  • single prawn hand-trawl (drag) net that is not more than 4 m across (width between poles) with mesh of not less than 16 mm, and must not be attached to a boat or set – with the exceptions below.

You may not use, or leave unattended, a prawn hand-trawl (drag) net in these areas of the West Coast Bioregion:

  • Harvey Estuary and its tributaries;
  • Peel Inlet and its tributaries;
  • Peel Inlet channel entrance;
  • Dawesville Cut;
  • Leschenault Estuary and its tributaries; and
  • Swan River within 100 m of any part of the Pelican Point Nature Reserve; or within 100 m of the Milyu Nature Reserve.

Any crabs caught when fishing for prawns must be returned to the water immediately.

In WA, licences are required for:

  • use of a powered boat to fish or to transport your catch or fishing gear to or from a land- based fishing location (Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence);
  • rock lobster;
  • abalone;
  • marron;
  • South-west (south of 29°S) freshwater angling; and
  • net fishing (set, haul and throw nets).

The licence covers a 12-month period from the date of issue.

With the exception of the above, you do not require a licence to fish from the shore.

You must produce your licence when requested by a Fisheries and Marine Officer. 

How to get a licence

Apply for a new licence or renew an existing licence online. Alternatively, application forms are available from Department of Fisheries offices and online.

Fishing licences issues in other states are not valid in Western Australia.

Different type of marine protected areas exist in WA waters (to three nautical miles off the coast) and special fishing rules apply.

Information about marine protected areas is provided through our location search – click on the 'View map' link at the top of this page or search for your location.

Marine protected areas include marine reserves, fish habitat protection areas and other fishing closures such as wreck sites. Most of these areas are subject to additional rules.

Marine reserves, which include marine nature reserves, marine parks and marine management areas, are managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

In addition to marine reserves, there are a number of fish habitat protection areas and other closed areas managed by the Department of Fisheries.