Marine aquarium fish fishery

From 1 September 2021, there are new rules and reporting requirements for Queensland commercial fisheries.

Find fact sheets on the new rules and reporting requirements.

Fishery area

The marine aquarium fish fishery operates along the Queensland east coast from the tip of Cape York south to the Queensland - New South Wales border. Refer to the Fisheries Regulation 2008 for the exact boundaries of fishery areas.

The fishery is designated by the fishery symbol A1 or A2.


Commercial fishers operating in Queensland's state-managed fisheries are required to complete daily catch and effort logbooks. These logbooks detail where, when and how fishing took place, and what was caught.

You can view the following logbook page for this fishery:

Target species

There are more than 1500 marine fish species that could be harvested from Queensland waters for private or public aquarium displays. While some species have a broad distribution, others are endemic to Queensland and nearby waters and are in demand from export markets.

The fish families important to the aquarium trade include:

  • damselfish (family Pomacentridae)
  • butterflyfish and bannerfish (family Chaetodontidae)
  • angelfish (family Pomacanthidae)
  • wrasses (family Labridae)
  • surgeonfish (family Acanthuridae)
  • gobies (family Gobiidae).

Fishing gear

Aquarium fish are commercially harvested by hand with the use of:

  • handheld apparatus
  • fishing lines with a single barbless hook
  • cast nets
  • scoop nets
  • seine/barrier nets
  • herding devices (e.g. a small rod).

Divers operating in this commercial fishery use scuba or surface-supplied air from hookah apparatus.

Refer to the Fisheries Regulation 2008 for the types and specifications of gear allowed.

A small number of collectors target much larger fish to supply public aquariums. Those operators need to obtain a general fisheries permit to use certain equipment or if they intend to operate outside prescribed size limits and/or species restrictions.

Other management arrangements

  • The fishery has limited entry
    • 45 licences with A1 symbol
    • 4 licences with A2 symbol.
  • Limits exist on the number of boats (1 primary plus 1 other boat) and collectors (up to 3) operating under a licence at any one time.
  • In order to protect stocks in the specific areas from localised depletion, the following high-use regions are defined as special management areas with limited access
    • Cairns area (16 licences)
    • Whitsundays area (3 licences)
    • Keppel area (8 licences)
    • Sunshine Coast area (8 licences)
    • Moreton Bay area (11 licences).
  • Catch limits exist for A2 symbol holders - 10 fish in possession, with no more than 2 fish of any species.
  • Size limits exist for certain species.
  • Seasonal closures apply to certain species of coral reef finfish in certain waters north of latitude 24°50'S. Two annual, 5-day closures apply around the new moon periods in October and November of each year.

Also consider...


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