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Samson fish

Seriola hippos
Licences

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.
  • 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 finish, large pelagic finish and nearshore/esturarine finish, 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 finfish for these bioregions).

  • 5 fish = 3 red-throat emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 spangled emperor
    OR
  • 5 fish = 3 spangled emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 red-throat emperor.

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 dhufishblue swimmer crabsmud crabssquid, octopus, cuttlefishgreenlip/brownlip abalone and rock lobster. 

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.

For bag and size limits, finfish are categorised according to their aquatic environment:

A – Pelagic

B – Demersal

C – Nearshore

D – Estuarine

E – Freshwater

Dotted line – 20 m depth mark 

 

In some cases there are rules that apply to specific biological regions – the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast, West Coast or South Coast bioregions.

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).

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, 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.

Legal fishing gear is outlined below; everything else is illegal.

  • Rods, lines and hooks – you can only use a maximum of three baits or lures on each line. Shore-based fishers may use a maximum of two fishing lines. Rods and lines must be attended.
    Note: To catch barramundi, you are only permitted to use a single rod, reel and line or a single hand-held line.
  • Rock lobster pots – fishers (including divers) must not remove form the water or interfere with any rock lobster pot that does not belong to them. Fishers who come across someone else's pot that appears snagged or with unmarked floats or without a rope and float attached, are encouraged to record the GPS coordinates and report it to a Fisheries Officer or through Fishwatch.
  • Spearfishing – generally allowed in ocean waters, except in some marine protected areas and around dive wrecks. Further information on specific restrictions in marine protected areas is available from your local Fisheries office or through our location search – click on the 'View map' link at the top of this page or search for your location. 
    All inland waters (rivers, tributaries and dams) are closed to spearfishing. However, the use of a hand spear (gidgie) is permitted to take estuarine cobbler in estuaries.
  • Haul, set and throw fishing nets – most of the State is closed to set and haul netting. See our Recreational Net Fishing Guide for details.
  • Release weights – required if fishing for demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion. Also recommended when fishing for demersal species in other regions.

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.

Measure finfish from the point of the snout to the tip of the tail.

Pick up a free fish ruler sticker from Department of Fisheries offices or participating retail stores.

The maximum quantity of finfish (includes scalefish, sharks and rays) you may have in your possession – either whole or in pieces – is:

  • 20 kg of fish fillets; or
  • 10 kg of fish fillets and one day’s bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks; or
  • two days’ bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks.

At the Abrolhos Islands the possession limit is:

  • 10 kg of fish fillets; or
  • one day’s bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks.

In Shark Bay’s Freycinet Estuary Management Zone, the possession limit is:

  • 5 kg of fish fillets; or
  • one day’s bag limit of whole fish or fish trunks.

Definitions and exclusions

‘Fillet’ means any particular piece of a finfish, other than a whole fish, fish trunk, head, tail, fin, backbone or wing. For these pieces to be excluded from the possession limit they must be entirely removed from the fillet. ‘Trunk’ means a fish that has had its head and tail removed.

These limits apply throughout WA, including permanent and temporary places of residence.

The following baitfish are not included in the finfish possession limit: hardyhead (Atherinidae), sardines/pilchards (Clupeidae), whitebait (Engraulidae), garfish (Hemiramphidae) and mullet (Mugilida).

Commercially purchased fish are not included, but you may be asked for proof of purchase.

Some species have a specific possession limit, including barramundi.

Note: Unless it can be proven otherwise, you are assumed to be in possession/control of the fish if you are using/in control of a vessel, vehicle, refrigerator, freezer, icebox or other storage device in which fish are found.

Labelling stored fish

If the quantity of fish stored in a single container/freezer exceeds one person’s possession limit, the fish must be clearly labelled with the name of the owner(s).

Labels, of at least 75 mm long and 25 mm wide, must be securely attached to each container or package of fish. The full name of the owner must be legibly written on the label and be clearly visible for inspection.

Labels are not needed if:

  • You are within your daily bag limit and still on your fishing trip.
  • The fish are in the possession and under the direct physical control of the person who took the fish and are not stored with anyone else’s fish.

Landing filleted or processed fish

Fish with a minimum size limit can be carried at sea and landed:

  • as fillets, skin and scale on, a minimum 30 cm length;
  • trunked, skin and scale on, a minimum 30 cm length; or
  • whole (can be gutted and gilled).

When filleting fish at sea, a minimum fillet length applies only to fish with a minimum size limit. Fish with a maximum size limit need to be landed whole.

Unless they are being prepared for immediate consumption or being eaten, estuary cod, Malabar cod and barramundi (which all have a maximum size limit) must be carried whole at sea (although can be gutted and gilled), on estuaries and on rivers and landed whole.

Fish without a size limit can be carried at sea and landed:

  • Filleted, skin on;
  • Trunked, skin on; or
  • Whole (can be gutted and gilled).

Note: These rules also apply if you are returning from an island.

Transporting of unaccompanied fish

Unaccompanied recreationally caught fish cannot be transported by commercial couriers (or any other person). You must accompany your fish if transporting it by land, sea or air.