Protected and pest species

Some fish are declared as protected or as pests, and different fishing rules apply to these species.

Anyone who takes these species from SA waters may face heavy fines, as this is considered illegal fishing activity.

Search freshwater and marine species

All protected species and common aquatic pests are listed under the fishing limits search.

View protected species View pest species

Protected species rules

Protected species must not be taken under certain circumstances, according to the type of fish. This includes:

  • during certain stages of their lifecycle, such as their reproductive period
  • during certain times of the year
  • from particular closed areas or reserves
  • at any time.

If you catch a protected species, you must return it to the water immediately, avoiding further harm. Learn how to handle your catch and safely release it.

Aquatic pest rules

Aquatic pests are non-native fish, aquatic plants, crabs, molluscs, or invertebrates that cause a range of environmental problems.

They cannot be taken, nor released back into state waters. Learn the rules around aquatic pests and search them by species type or broad location.

Reporting requirements

You must immediately report to Fishwatch any sighting of pests, including unusual freshwater or marine organisms. This enables us to:

  • advise what to do if you see or catch one while fishing
  • prevent them from spreading.

To assist with your report:

  1. Record your location – screenshot your map app or use photo geotagging.
  2. Provide these details:
    • habitat (e.g. harbour, beach, rocky reef)
    • date and time
    • water depth if the organism was found under water
    • the number of suspected marine pests you saw.
  3. Take close-up photos from different angles – try to include an object for reference (coin or another available item).

Biosecurity precautions

Recreational fishers can help protect our environment from aquatic pests by:

Report suspected exotic species and diseases

Early detection is important to stop the establishment and spread of aquatic pests and diseases.

Report unusual sightings immediately, including mass fish die-off.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Fishwatch hotline: 1800 065 522 SA Fishing app
Page last reviewed: 10 May 2024


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