Victorian Inland Commercial Fishing Policy


Native fish once made up the entire stock of fish in Victorian inland waters.

Native fish stock declines required changes in management. In 2002, the Victorian Government bought out all remaining commercial Inland Fishery Access Licences, effectively ending commercial netting of native finfish (other than eels and some bait species) in inland Victorian waters. This buyout was funded by Recreational Fishing Licence revenue.

The Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) and Fisheries Regulations 2009 (Vic) provide a range of management tools - classes of access licences and permits - that can authorise the take of fish from inland waters for sale and for non-commercial purposes.


The purpose of this Policy Statement is to document the policy to be applied with regard to any future applications for commercial fishing in Victorian inland waters.


In the Fisheries Act 1995:

  • 'Inland waters' means:
    1. any swamp or lake other than the Gippsland Lakes, Lake Tyers, the Lower Lake of Mallacoota Inlet and Wingan Inlet;
    2. any waterway, channel or anabranch from its mouth to its source and any inlet, backwater or lagoon connected to it;
    3. any other lagoon, backwater, anabranch or billabong;
    4. any reservoir, dam, tank, channel or works for water storage or distribution vested in or under the control of the Crown or a public authority;
    5. any other waters declared by the regulations to be inland waters- but not any water or waters which is private property
  • 'Take' means to gain possession or control by any means
  • 'Sell' means to:
    1. barter; and
    2. exchange; and
    3. agree or offer to sell; and
    4. receive, have in possession or expose for sale; and
    5. send, forward, deliver or consign for sale; and
    6. sell for resale; and
    7. cause, permit or attempt any of the acts or things referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f) above.

Managing Fisheries

The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) provides advice to government and manages Victoria's fishery resource consistent with the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) and Fisheries Regulations 2009 (Vic). The business of the VFA can be characterised as 'securing' fisheries resources, 'sharing' fisheries resources and 'growing' or developing the value of the resource for the benefit of the community. The principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) underpin all three roles.

Policy Statement

In inland Victorian waters, authority to take fish for sale (commercial fishing) will only be issued for the following species:

  • Eels and other species authorised under existing Eel Fishery Access Licences
  • Bait species authorised under existing Bait Fishery Access Licences issued for the purpose of collection of bait in inland waters
  • Noxious aquatic species authorised under a Noxious Aquatic Species permit or other aquatic pests.

Species Information

  • Eel Fishery Access Licences authorise the take for sale (with conditions) of: eels, carp, goldfish, roach and tench.
  • Bait species are listed in Schedule 9 of the Fisheries Regulations 2009.  These species are: anchovy and other clupeoid species, bass yabby (ghost shrimp), clam, crab, flathead gudgeon, mussel, pilchard, prawn, marine worm, shrimp, whitebait, and yabby. Some of these species may not occur in Victorian 'inland waters'
  • Noxious aquatic species are declared under the Fisheries Act 1995, Section 75. Many of these species do not occur in Victorian 'inland waters'. Check the our website for the present species list. A Noxious Aquatic Species permit is required to take, possess, or sell noxious aquatic species. The Victorian Fisheries Authority's policy statement on Noxious Aquatic Species Permits provides guidance.

Accessing Native Fish from inland waters

Victorians and visitors will still be able to access our native fish from inland waters for a wide range of non-commercial and commercial purposes.

  • Consumers: Native fish that are prized table fare - such as Murray cod - are now produced by commercial aquaculture and may be purchased from fresh fish retailers and/or restaurants
  • Recreational Anglers: Members of the public may recreationally take certain native fish species from Victorian 'inland waters' provided they comply with relevant laws. Recreational anglers must not take fish, including bait, for sale, barter or exchange, or sell fish or expose fish for sale. The Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide, updated annually, provides guidance and can be accessed via this website, or DEDJTR offices and Recreational Fishing Licence sale outlets.
  • Aboriginal groups: May take certain native fish for cultural or ceremonial purposes in accordance with recreational fishing laws and bag limits or complying with permits as issued on a case by case basis.
  • Aquaculture operators: Authorised aquaculture operators can access native fish from other producers. Authority to collect native fish under permit for brood stock may be issued on a case-by-case basis.
  • Ornamental industry and hobbyists: People wishing to obtain native fish from inland waters for ornamental display should source fish from existing legally available captive stock.
  • Researchers & Educators: Permit authorisations will still be considered for scientific and educational access to native fish.

Report Illegal Fishing

The 13 FISH Offence Reporting Service encourages reports of suspected illegal fishing activities or sales anywhere in Victoria. Please call 13 FISH (13 3474).

Existing Authorisations

Existing permits allowing activities which are inconsistent with this Policy Statement will be allowed to continue based on existing levels of catch, areas fished and species taken.

Other Relevant Policy

This policy will be implemented in a manner consistent with other policy statements. 

Further Information

Further information can be obtained by contacting the Customer Service Centre: 136 186