Policy No: 16

Introduction | Definitions | Policy | Explanatory notes


Fishing (as defined below) is a form of hunting. As hunting and collecting are not permitted in terrestrial national parks and nature reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974)(as amended) or under the Wilderness Act (1987), there is no logical reason for permitting fishing in any aquatic or marine parks or extensions of these reserves. NPA seeks complete compliance with the accepted IUCN definition of a national park (1969): ".... where the highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate as soon as possible exploitation (our emphasis) or occupation in the whole area ....". Fishing is exploitation. It interferes with both nature itself and other peoples' enjoyment of it.

Fishing in marine national parks, marine nature reserves, and marine recreation areas is covered by a separate, but similar, NPA policy: MARINE NATIONAL PARKS, MARINE NATURE RESERVES, AND MARINE RECREATION AREAS.


* Fishing. For the purposes of this policy, "fishing" means the commercial or recreational catching, taking, or removal, by any means, of any aquatic or marine animal life, whether free-swimming or sedentary.

* Fish. For the purposes of this policy, "fish" means all aquatic or marine animal life.

* Exotic fish. Foreign, introduced, not native fish, e.g. European carp, Loach, Pacific Oysters.

* National parks and nature reserves are as provided for under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974)(as amended).

* Wilderness is as provided for under the Wilderness Act (NSW 1987).


1. Fishing (as defined above) should not be permitted in national parks, nature reserves, or wilderness; whether in fresh, brackish, or marine waters; and whether commercial or otherwise, with the following exceptions:

1.1 Aboriginals, where the land concerned is owned by the local Aboriginal group to which they belong; for sustenance only; and with conditions and limits;, and using methods laid down by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of NSW. Limits should include a prohibition on the taking of endangered species.

1.2 Research, where no other location is satisfactory for the purpose, and capture, killing, or interference with native flora and fauna, is essential to that purpose, and providing it is authorised by the NPWS and in accordance with conditions laid down by the NPWS.

2. The National Parks and Wildlife Act should be amended to include fish (as defined here) and fish products, in the Act's definition of "fauna", and to provide for the prohibition of fishing in national parks and nature reserves. Similarly, the Wilderness Act should be amended to provide for the prohibition of fishing.

3. Where the National Parks and Wildlife Service Estate or wilderness is adjacent to marine or estuarine waters, its boundary should extend to Mean Low Water Mark, in order to give the NPWS full permanent authority over the intertidal area. Until this is effected, the NPWS should be given trusteeship over the area, with full management powers.

4. All streams, lakes, lagoons, wetlands and other water bodies situated within the National Parks and Wildlife Service Estate or in wilderness, should, both waters and beds, be made parts of those reserves or wilderness.

5. The NPWS, in consultation with NSW Fisheries, should investigate ways of removing exotic fish from waters enclosed by national parks, nature reserves, or wilderness, without a significant impact upon native fauna, flora, or ecosystems. Subsequent removal of exotic fish should be undertaken or supervised by NPWS itself.


Clause 1: It should be remembered that other environmental policies have taken time to be generally accepted, such as opposition to the killing of koalas, whales and dolphins, and logging and clearance of rainforests.

National parks are, according to international agreement endorsed by Australia and its States, very specific in their nature and purposes. They are reserved for the complete protection of whole natural environments, conserving all wildlife and living systems, and admitting recreation only of a kind which has minimal effects upon the maintenance of natural conditions and human enjoyment of them. As they occupy so little of the State's land area (about 1/20th of NSW), and serve so vital a function, their integrity should be zealously maintained, and no one should seek to compromise between truly appropriate recreation and crass exploitation by permitting a sport harvesting of natural resources within them. Where, other than these special places, can one go to escape man's incessant interference? This is not simply a case of impacting upon nature, but also of denying us the right of some undiminished delight in nature.

Clause 1.1: European man's drastic superimposition of impact on the natural state of Australia over that of the Aboriginal has, as everyone knows, resulted in many animal species becoming extinct or endangered. Any hunting, whether terrestrial or aquatic, therefore represents a potential threat, and restrictions must be applied and observed. Aboriginals, having largely adopted the white man's ways and his more advantageous transport facilities (4WD vehicles, etc.) and weapons (guns), can hardly be expected to return to traditional hunting on foot or in canoes with spears. Therefore, they too must accept restriction, even in their own lands. Even so, we accept that some Aboriginal hunting (including fishing) should be permitted within national parks (etc.) within those lands, the conditions and limits being set by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Clauses 3 and 4: With few exceptions, the seaward or estuarine boundary of NSW coastal national parks and nature reserves is Mean High Water Mark. For many years environmentalists have been asking for the addition of the intertidal area or strip, i.e. between MHWM and MLWM, to the National Parks and Wildlife Service Estate, so that the NPWS could assume full management powers, and thus be enabled to control, and preferably prohibit, motor vehicles on the strip, along with the rest of the beach. The removal of motor vehicles from the whole of an NPWS beach is highly desirable.

A similar situation exists in regard to waterways enclosed within NPWS land, where the Maritime Services Board, not the NPWS, has control over boat usage. It would be highly desirable that these waters be added to the NP&W Estate, giving the NPWS power to control and, hopefully, prohibit the use of motor craft, which would assist in the prohibition of fishing.


Reprinted 8th June 1994


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