Recreational Fishing

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in the Northern Territory and occurs in various waters including Aboriginal waters. The term ‘Aboriginal waters’ refers to waters overlying Aboriginal land.

Permission is required to enter Aboriginal land and waters, including for recreational fishing. Permission to fish in Aboriginal waters is provided via Recreational Fishing Permits administered by the NLC. 

The information below outlines access arrangements for recreational fishers who would like to access Aboriginal waters as of 1 January 2023.


Green zones

No permit required

Recreational fishers who would like to access Aboriginal waters marked in green on the Recreational Fishing Aboriginal Waters Access Map are able to do so without the need to apply for a Recreational Fishing Permit. 

The Traditional Aboriginal Owners of these areas have entered into an access agreement with the Northern Territory Government to allow people to access their waters.


Black, Blue and Purple zones

Permit required

Recreational fishers who would like to access Aboriginal waters marked in black, blue and purple on the Recreational Fishing Aboriginal Waters Access Map need to apply for a recreational fishing permit. The system will either;

  • Provide you with an automatically issued permit, or
  • Require your application to be reviewed and approved by a Traditional Aboriginal Owner permit advisor, before it can be issued.

The zone you apply for will determine how your permit is issued. If the permit is approved, you will be able to access Aboriginal waters for the zone and date range you have applied for. Please click on the link below to apply.


Red areas

Recreational fishers are not allowed to access Aboriginal waters marked in red on the Recreational Fishing Aboriginal Waters Access Map. 

Access is restricted to the Recreational fishing sector for Aboriginal waters in the following locations:

- Along the Finniss coast and the Peron Islands area (including the Little Finniss)

- Areas around the Mini Mini system down to an area just north of the mouth of the East Alligator River (including Saltwater Creek and Murgenella Creek)


Aboriginal Waters Access Map - Recreational Fishing

To view all Aboriginal Waters Access Maps click here.

Unauthorised entry onto Aboriginal land and waters could result in a fine of 50 penalty units (currently $15,650) under Commonwealth law, or 8 penalty units (currently $1,408) under Northern Territory law. The acceptance of insurance claims on Aboriginal land may also rely on a valid permit.

Please contact Darwin Head Office at reception@nlc.org.au or (08) 8920 5100. If you would like any further information, please contact the Sea Country team at seacountry@nlc.org.au or (08) 8980 1925


This information was updated on 19 July 2023