Queensland's commercial fisheries

A commercial fishery is an aquatic region where licensed commercial fishers operate, catching fish species for profit.

In Queensland, commercial fisheries extend throughout tidal waters, from river estuaries to the Queensland East Coast Offshore Constitutional Settlement Boundary near the edge of the continental shelf. They operate from the New South Wales border in South East Queensland to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Commercial fisheries are categorised according to the species they target and the fishing gear they use.

Fisheries Queensland's role

Fisheries Queensland regulates commercial fisheries through catch and effort limits to ensure they remain sustainable. They are responsible for allocating and managing authorities (licences, permits and quotas), which allow fishing activities in Queensland waters.

Queensland Fisheries Joint Authority (QFJA)

Fisheries Queensland also provides licensing for QFJA, which is responsible for managing certain fish stocks in the Gulf of Carpentaria under the Fisheries Act 1994. These include mackerels, shark and demersal fin fish. The activities of QFJA are limited to commercial fisheries. QFJA comprises the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Trawl fisheries

The trawl fishery is Queensland's largest commercial fishery, with about 600 vessels catching up to 10,000 tonnes of product each year. There are 2 basic types of trawling: otter trawling and beam trawling. The otter trawl fishery is by far the larger, accounting for about 95% of the total harvest taken each year.

Line fisheries

Queensland line fisheries use fishing lines, with a restriction on the number of lines and hooks that can be used. Boats used range from fleets with sophisticated equipment to small dinghies.

Net fisheries

Queensland net fisheries use a variety of nets and netting methods. Controls have been introduced so that certain species may not be fished all year round. Open and closed seasons vary among species.

Crab fisheries

Queensland crab fisheries operate in intertidal, coastal and offshore waters using baited dillies, wire-mesh crab pots, trawl-mesh (nylon) crab pots and collapsible traps. Blue swimmer crabs are also caught by prawn and scallop trawlers.

Harvest fisheries

Queensland's harvest fisheries collect target species from several individually managed fisheries. These species are primarily collected by hand or by using handheld implements. Commercial harvesting methods often involve the use of underwater breathing apparatus, such as scuba equipment or hookah.

Eel fisheries

The Queensland commercial eel fishery is unusual in that the resource is harvested at 2 stages in its life cycle: the adult stage and the glass eel/elver stage (juvenile). As such, the fishery is managed in two components:

  • an adult fishery (eels more than 30cm long)
  • a juvenile fishery (eels less than 30cm long)

Although eel fishers harvest eels at different life stages and use different gear, both target the same eel populations.

Developmental fisheries

Developmental fishing determines whether or not a potential new fishery is commercially viable, socially acceptable and ecologically sustainable.

Torres Strait fisheries

The Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) manages commercial fisheries in the Torres Strait Protected Zone (TSPZ). The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) provides management advice and carries out domestic compliance in the TSPZ.

Since 1 July 2015 Fisheries Queensland no longer manages commercial fishing licences for the Torres Strait area. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), on behalf of the PZJA, now issues these licences.

Find out more about commercial fishing licences in the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

More information

For more information about Queensland's commercial fisheries - including management areas, target species, gear used, licensing, regulations and monitoring - phone Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23.