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Government controls and legislation for the eel fishery

Management arrangements

The adult eel fishery has been managed as a closed fishery (closed to new applicants) since 1999.

Current licences are non-transferable, which means they cannot be bought or sold. This is the major input control on the fishery, as well as the restrictions on trapping areas and the limited number of traps allowed for use in each area.

Species and size limits

Freshwater eels are the only species that may be taken for trade or commerce in Queensland freshwaters. No other species may be kept.

The target species in the Queensland commercial eel fishery are:

  • the long-finned eel (Anguilla reinhardtii)
  • the short-finned eel (Anguilla australis).

There is a minimum size limit of 30cm for adult eels.

Trade and export

Juvenile eels

Juvenile eels may be sold to authorised aquaculture enterprises in Australia for on-growing only. Exporting juvenile eels is not permitted.

Adult eels

Almost all of Queensland's wild-caught adult eel catch is exported as live product to Asia - primarily Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. The market for live long-fin eels is based on the eels weighing more than 400g, with large eels attracting premium prices.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has endorsed Queensland's eel fishery as an approved wildlife trade operation. The department considers the fishery sustainable under current management arrangements.


Commercial eel fishers operating in Queensland-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.

Fisheries legislation

The Queensland commercial eel fishery is operated in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1994 and the Fisheries Regulation 2008.


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