The Federal Government has laid down a single set of rules on how the nation needs to work together to control the spread of coronavirus.
However, it’s up to Australia’s individual states and territories to determine how those guidelines are interpreted.
The result is a hot mess as the rules around whether you can fish – from land or from a boat – are interpreted differently depending on where you live.
To help clear the waters, we’ve attempted to find out what is, and is not, permitted. Where no official information is provided, we’re marking the decision to go boating or fishing as a grey area where individuals will need to decide whether they have a reasonable excuse to break the restrictions.
If you do head out on the water and get into trouble, marine rescue services may take longer to help you as they implement plans to manage the coronavirus risk. They all strongly recommend that you reconsider heading out on the water for that reason alone.
Note that this advice could change day by day, so it's important to make sure you have the latest information before picking up a rod and heading out the door.
The easiest advice is this: If you’re unsure or don't need to be out, stay at home.
Fishing charters ：Yes
On 11 May, the Victorian State Government announced that from 11:59pm on 12 May, fishing and boating will be allowed, so long as appropriate physical distancing is maintained.
The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has advised that outdoor activities involving groups under 10 people can take place from midnight Tuesday 12 May. This means that with social distancing in place, boating can return to Victorian Waters. The Premier specifically said “You can go out in your tinny, so long as you practice social distancing”, during his 11am press conference this morning (11 May). Our understanding is that this extends to all forms of boating whether it be tow sport related, sailing (small crews), fishing, cruising or just going to a marina berthed vessel (however not for overnight stays and without clubhouses being opened). We would assume also that charter and tourism activities that can provide social distancing on board, and keep groups under 10, should be good to resume.
During this time, it is still extremely important to follow the rules of social distancing whilst out on your boat. Please see below a video from the BIAV President David Meehan, CEO Steve Walker and Maritime Safety Victoria's Gareth Johnson as they talk about boating safely under current restrictions.
NSW Maritime appreciates that many boaters and community members have questions about the public health directions and how they relate to water-based activities.
From 14 May 2020, NSW Government Public Health Orders have been updated which eases some of the previous restrictions across NSW. View the latest information about Public Health Orders and restrictions.
All recreational boating is permitted, however, the skipper must still ensure there is four square metres of space for each person on board.
People should still only boat locally and always remember to practice good personal hygiene.
Commercial and charter vessels may operate but must ensure they are operating with the restrictions associated with their category of business and the required distancing requirements.
When onshore, do not gather with more than 10 people unless with members of the same household. This applies in any public place, such as a wharf or publicly accessible vessel.
Skippers must also remember their other safety responsibilities regarding safety equipment, alcohol consumption, keeping a proper look out and proceeding at a safe speed.
The Queensland Government has announced a three-stage plan for a COVID-safe Queensland, allowing more travel, more activities and larger gatherings. From 11.59pm, Friday May 15, Recreational water-based travel of a radius of up to 150km from your home for day trips will be permitted.
This means that from 16 May 2020, you will be allowed to visit Fraser Island, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island for day trips, permitted the island is within a 150km radius of your home.
Social distancing rules always apply – special attention must be paid at congestion areas like boat ramps and refuelling points. Additionally, there is also the unnecessary contact risks you may create if you need assistance when out of the water – hence, for those venturing out prepare well before leaving home.
Important to note
Please be aware all agencies and rescue groups are following the Chief Health Officer directions within their own work areas. All emergencies will be dealt with as a matter of priority, but less urgent incidents may potentially take longer to respond to. Volunteer marine rescue organisations and MSQ continue to provide a marine distress emergency radio watch on marine VHF channels 16 and 67.
While getting outdoors and going fishing is something we love to do, we must all play our part to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep our communities safe.
If you are going recreational fishing, follow social distancing directions, including:
A gathering of no more than 10 persons maximum.
Ensuring each individual maintains a social distancing space of at least 1.5 metres between themselves and each other individual present in the same place.
Do not congregate or gather in groups – pay particular attention around jetties, piers, boat ramps and land-based fishing locations.
If social distancing cannot be maintained, please stay at home and minimise social interactions.
Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser before entering your house, or directly upon your return.
Find out about the WA Government's directions regarding recreational boating during COVID-19.
We know you love to get out on the water. If you're one of the State’s 100,000 recreational boat owners, or simply enjoy the State’s waterways using other craft, find out what you need to know from our frequently asked questions below.
Can I go boating?
Yes. The State Government has identified boating as one of the non-contact recreational activities that is now allowed, with up to 20 people for boating and fishing as long as the four square metre per person rule is accounted for on the vessel. Please view the WA State Government's directions on gatherings and social distancing
Should I do anything different at the launch ramp?
Please wait your turn at the ramp and ensure you practise social distancing and maintain personal hygiene at all times.
Are there restrictions on where I can go boating?
Skippers should be aware of the current notices to mariners. There are also restrictions preventing vessels crossing regional boundaries.
Can I go to Rottnest?
There are restrictions for access to Rottnest Island and the surrounding waters.
Restricted and supervised access to the exclusion zone off Rottnest Island to retrieve crayfish pots will be granted to recreational fishers. This is to retrieve equipment only and disembarking on the island is strictly prohibited.
What are the restrictions on where I can go fishing?
Tasmanian angling licence holders can undertake exercise, including fishing, at national parks and reserves, Hydro Tasmania lakes and Permanent Timber Production Zone land (State Forest) managed by Sustainable Timber Tasmania. Residents should only access areas that they can walk, run or cycle to, or if this is not possible, can drive to within 30 kilometres of their place of residence.
Tasmanian Irrigation managed waters remain open for day use for those that live nearby.
Toilet blocks and campgrounds remain closed.
Hydro Tasmania have lifted restrictions on lakes and boat ramps for day use by people who reside within the municipality in which the lake is located.
The brown trout season closed on Sunday 3 May, closing many waters in the State to recreational inland fishing.
Here are some basic guidelines for safe fishing during the COVID-19 Crisis:
Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing
Practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet of distance between yourself and others. A good way to measure this is with your fishing pole! Hold the pole straight out in front you. If you can turn in a circle without hitting anyone, that is a safe distance.
Follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available
Drive to your fishing spots only with your immediate family members and only if everyone is feeling well.
Don’t share fishing gear with others. Each angler should have their own fishing gear (rod and reels, bait, lures, towels, pliers, and other personal items).
We’ve gathered the latest information from state agencies in the Northeast. Rules and recommendations are changing daily, but we’ll do our best to keep the information below up to date.
*T&C apply. Valid for new subscribers only. Shared fishing charters excepted.