Commercial fishing access policy

We can license commercial fishers and people practicing aquaculture to access locations that are not open to the public.

Marine fish near Julian Rocks Nature ReserveUnder the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009, a person needs consent from the park manager to drive a vehicle on roads, tracks or areas in a national park that are not otherwise open to the public.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) can issue commercial fishers vehicle-based permits to provide such access. This meets the needs of the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry while ensuring that NPWS fulfils its responsibility to manage parks for the whole NSW community.

Key points for permit applicants

  • You can apply for a commercial fishing vehicle-access permit online 
  • One permit can cover many parks and tracks.
  • Each vehicle requires a separate permit, and the permit must be displayed on the vehicle while it is in a park.
  • Vehicle-access permits have standard conditions but additional conditions may be imposed in some areas to minimise impacts on park values.
  • You must hold a current commercial fishing or aquaculture licence and public liability insurance to the value of $10 million.
  • There is no fee for permits but you must pay any park-use fees that apply to other visitors.
  • Permits are valid until the end of the financial year, 30 June (maximum 12 months).
  • A permit can be renewed by applying again, unless there has been a problem with its use.
  • You will need to clearly identify the area you want to access. You can do this by describing it in writing, giving coordinates, including map, or all three.
  • You will also need to provide identification and the registration details of your vehicle.
  • We aim to process initial applications within 21 days. We will notify you in writing whether your access has been approved or refused, or if we need more information to process your application. If you need to change your access requirements, you can re-apply online.
  • If you are unsure whether the area you want to access is open to the public, please contact your local NPWS office.

Policy

1. This policy applies to commercial fishers and holders of aquaculture permits holders are licensed under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and need to access areas of national parks that are normally closed to the public.

2. The permit will authorise access only on routes that support the permit holder’s commercial fishing activities, and access is permitted for that use only.

3. A permit will include standard conditions and may include specific conditions to minimise local impacts.

4. NPWS may modify or refuse a permit application based on this policy. If your request for access is modified or refused, the reasons and/or alternatives will be explained in written correspondence. If an application is refused, the applicant can appeal the decision by requesting a meeting, in writing, with an appropriate industry representative and the NPWS regional manager and/or director.

5. Before issuing vehicle-access permits for commercial fishing, NPWS will consider:

  • whether the proposed activity is permissible under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) and relevant park planning documents (for example plans of management or statements of management intent)
  • the likely impacts, including cumulative impacts, on sensitive sites including freshwater and marine plants and animals (for example migratory seabird or shorebird breeding sites, platypus habitat or turtle nesting sites)
  • the likely impacts, including cumulative impacts, on park values, including Aboriginal cultural-heritage values
  • the likely impacts, including cumulative impacts, on park infrastructure and built assets (for example tracks or ramps)
  • whether the proposed access is through Ramsar-listed wetlands or World Heritage-listed Areas 
  • whether the fishing activity is proposed to take place on a Ramsar-listed wetland or a World Heritage-listed Area
  • the potential for fishing activity to impact on or conflict with park users (for example recreational users or commercial operators)
  • the potential for impacts on, or conflict with, park management activities (for example pest and weed control works, or fire management activities)
  • whether the proposed access is essential to the licensed activity
  • whether the proposed access uses an existing track or area
  • whether there is alternative public access.

6. If vehicle access is required through Ramsar-listed wetlands or World Heritage-listed Areas, or if the fishing activity is proposed to take place in these areas, applicants need to be aware that the Commonwealth Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) will apply. These areas are listed as matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act. This means that activities with the potential to have a significant impact on environmental values may also need to be assessed by the Australian Government.

7. NPWS may refuse a vehicle-access permit or may withdraw a current permit where there has been a breach of permit conditions. When a permit application is refused, the refusal will be reviewed by the relevant NPWS regional manager or branch director. If an applicant or permit holder wants to appeal against a decision, they can request a meeting, in writing, with an appropriate industry representative and NPWS representative.

8. Where authorised access routes are locked to public vehicle access, NPWS will provide a key to permit holders. The permit holder must pay a $200 deposit to NPWS upon receipt of the key. The key remains the property of the NSW Government, and is not transferable to any other person and must not be copied. NPWS will refund the deposit when the permit expires and the key is returned.

9. All commercial operators who access fishing locations through land managed by NPWS must hold public-liability insurance to appropriately indemnify the NPWS.

10. From time to time, it may be reasonable for commercial fishers to contribute to the maintenance of an access route (for example, if the access is causing unacceptable damage to a track). Any shared maintenance work will be subject to a separate agreement and an appropriate level of environmental assessment.

11. NPWS may vary vehicle-access permit conditions at any time by writing to the permit holder. The reasons will be explained to the permit holder and may include, but are not limited to, road closures necessary to protect natural or cultural heritage values, or closures during environmental extremes (for example, floods or fires). In such cases, NPWS will help find an alternative access arrangement where possible.

12. NPWS retains the right to close areas on a semi-permanent basis, without written notice, where deemed necessary for safety reasons due to extreme weather, fire events or other hazards as determined by the NPWS regional manager. However, vehicle-access permit holders will be notified in advance of closures wherever possible.

13. NPWS will record data on commercial fishing access permits in a central database. NPWS will use that data to report on the implementation of the Commercial Fishing Access Permit System.

The standard permit conditions below apply to all access permits for commercial fishers on NPWS parks. Applicants must accept these standard conditions when submitting their application online. Breaches of these conditions may lead to enforcement action.

Standard conditions applying to all permits

Licence requirements

S1. The permit remains valid while the permit holder has a current drivers licence and the permitted vehicle is roadworthy, registered and insured.

S2. This permit remains in force from the date of commencement until 30 June each year unless one of the following applies:

  • it is cancelled
  • it is suspended
  • the commercial fishing licence has been cancelled or suspended for any reason during the year
  • the permit holder has provided written notice of surrender of the permit.

S3. The permit holder is only permitted to use the authorised vehicle to access areas listed within the permit conditions for commercial fishing or aquaculture purposes.

S4. The permit holder must pay with any park-use fees that apply in the park.

S5. The permit holder must comply with the conditions of this permit, the NPW Act, the NPW Regulation and all other laws (including Commonwealth laws).

Variation, renewal and cancellation

S6. NPWS may at any time vary these conditions by providing written notice of a variation to the permit holder.

S7. The permit holder is responsible for applying for renewal of this permit (including payment of associated fees) before the permit expires.

S8. If the permit holder breaches any condition of this permit, NPWS may:

  • at any time suspend the operation of this permit with immediate effect
  • cancel this permit by giving 28 days’ notice in writing of the cancellation to the permit holder
  • if NPWS considers that the breach may have contravened the NPW Act, the NPW Regulation or any other laws, pursue enforcement action under the relevant legislation.

The permit holder must notify the NPWS Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses, by giving notice by email if any of the permit holder’s contact details change. Failure to provide such notification may result in the permit being cancelled.

S9. If the permit is cancelled, suspended or surrendered, the permit holder shall not be entitled to any compensation in relation to that cancellation, suspension or surrender.

S10. Any disputes in relation to this permit shall be referred to the relevant NPWS Director for resolution. After considering the outcomes of any relevant appeal and review, the Director’s decision shall be final and binding.

Transfers and surrenders

S11. This permit shall be held bona fide for the sole use of the permit holder.

S12. This permit is not transferable to another individual.

S13. If the permit is cancelled, suspended, transferred in violation of the rules of the permit, or surrendered, NPWS will not be liable to reimburse the permit holder for the cost of the permit for any remaining portion of the term of the permit.

Insurance and liability

S14. The permit holder must ensure that vehicle access to areas of a park otherwise closed to the public is used only for the purpose of permitted commercial fishing or aquaculture authorised under the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

S15. The permit holder must ensure that a valid commercial fishing and aquaculture vehicle-access permit is displayed on the dashboard of the permit holder’s authorised vehicle whenever the authorised vehicle is in areas of a park otherwise closed to the public.

S16. If access keys for the site are provided to the permit holder, a deposit of $200 must be paid. The permit holder must not copy or provide the keys to any other person or allow any other person to use the keys unless the NPWS Area Manager has provided written approval for the keys to be copied or used by an employee, sub-contractor or agent of the permit holder. All access keys remain the property of NPWS and are to be returned to the relevant NPWS office on the expiration, cancellation, surrender or transfer of the permit.

S17. The permit holder agrees to indemnify and keep indemnified to the value of $10 000 000 the Minister for the Environment, the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Crown in right of NSW and their employees, agents and contractors, in the absence of any wilful misconduct or negligence on their part, from and against all actions, demands, claims, proceedings brought against them and all losses, damages, costs (including legal costs), charges or expenses suffered or incurred by them resulting from any:

  • damage or destruction to any real or personal property
  • injury suffered or sustained (including death) by any persons arising out of or in connection with any activities undertaken pursuant to this permit.

The permit holder’s obligations under this condition continue after the expiration, cancellation, surrender, or suspension of this permit.

S18. The permit holder shall effect and maintain, from the commencement of this permit, a public liability policy of insurance covering personal injury and property damage including financial, economic or consequential loss (including loss of profit) arising as a result of such personal injury or property damage in the amount of $10 000 000 (being the amount which may be paid arising out of any one single accident or event) in connection with the activities of the permit holder in relation to this permit. The certificate of insurance must name the Minister for the Environment, the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Crown in right of NSW as interested parties. If the insurance policy described in this clause expires during the term of this permit, the permit holder must immediately obtain an updated policy of insurance.

S19. The insurance described in conditions S18 and S19 shall be provided by an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority approved insurance company or another company approved in writing by NPWS (such approval not to be unreasonably withheld).

S20. The permit holder agrees to release to the full extent permitted by law, the Crown in right of NSW, the Minister for the Environment, the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage, and their employees, agents and contractors, in the absence of any wilful misconduct or negligence on their part, from all suits, actions, demands and claims of every kind resulting from any:

  • damage or destruction to any real or personal property
  • injury suffered or sustained (including death) by any persons arising out of or in connection with any activities undertaken pursuant to this permit.

S21. The permit holder is responsible at all times for the general safety and behaviour of crew members, employees, contractors, sub-contractors and any person under the control and management of the permit holder when accessing the site. If the permit holder becomes aware of an incident or threat affecting the safety or health of the permit holder or any employee, contractor, sub-contractor, person under the control or management of the permit holder or any other user of the park, the permit holder is to refer that incident to the relevant NPWS Area Manager as soon as reasonably practicable.

S22. The permit holder is to ensure that crew members, employees, contractors, sub-contractors and any person under the control and management of the permit holder comply with all relevant industry codes of practice (including, but not limited to, the NSW Ocean Hauling Fishery Code of Practice and the NSW Purse Seine Industry Code of Practice).

S23. If the permit holder causes any damage to the site or the associated access roads, the permit holder is liable for the cost of repairing the damaged area including any structure thereon.

S24. If any environmental or property damage comes to the attention of the permit holder, whether caused by the permit holder or otherwise, the permit holder must notify the relevant NPWS office or Area Manager within two days.

S.25 Permit-holder vehicles are to give way to pedestrians and park users at all times when in parks. Care should particularly be taken on weekends and holiday periods.

S.26 The permit holder is to ensure safety of any native fauna, particularly nesting or resting shorebirds.

Site location and use

S.27 Nothing in this permit shall be construed as conferring upon the permit holder:

  • any estate or interest in the land constituting the site or the associated access roads, or any exclusive rights to the use thereof
  • a right to use firearms or to allow dogs, cats, horses, or any other non-native animal to enter a park.

S28. NPWS does not guarantee the condition of any access trails. Access may be restricted at any time for park-management reasons.

S29. The NPWS reserves the right to engage in any park-management activities on the site including (but not limited to):

  • fire, pest or weed management activity
  • erecting of fences
  • construction and maintenance of roads, firebreaks, crossings and watercourses by clearing, burning or any other method, at such times and in such locations as the NPWS may consider necessary.

On some occasions, park-management activities will require closing areas of a park. NPWS shall not be liable to compensate the permit holder for any loss or damage suffered by the permit holder arising from park-management activities.

S30. The permit holder shall not erect any buildings or structures on the site.

S31. The permit holder shall remove all foreign materials taken into the park, including (but not limited to) all equipment, bycatch, refuse and waste.

S32. The permit holder shall keep their vehicle clean of flora, fauna or materials that may contain soil, seeds, fungus, plants, animals or any foreign vectors or pathogens.

S33. The permit holder shall keep their vehicle, tools and operational machinery and vehicles (including boats) in good working order to prevent any leak or unintended spill of oil, fuel or other contaminants into the park.

Site access

S34. The permit holder’s access to the site shall be restricted to the routes and modes of transport specified in writing by the NPWS.

S35. The NPWS reserves the right to temporarily block access to the site by the permit holder. NPWS shall not be liable to compensate the permit holder for any loss or damage suffered by the permit holder arising from restriction of access pursuant to this condition.

S36. Where vehicle access to the site is required primarily for the purpose of the permit holder’s commercial fishing or aquaculture activities, NPWS may require the permit holder to contribute towards the cost of maintaining such vehicle access (such access to be of a reasonable standard as determined by NPWS).

Optional permit conditions

The following optional permit conditions may also be added to a commercial fishing access permit.

A1. The permit holder must notify the relevant NPWS Area Manager prior to entering the site for the purposes of commercial fishing or aquaculture according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A2. Vehicles, boats, camps and associated equipment may only be permitted on sand dunes at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A3. Refrigerated vans or trucks may only be used at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A4. Unloading and sorting of catches may only be undertaken at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A5. Camp fires and other means of cooking catches within the park may only be used at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A6. Generators may only be used at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A7. Nightlights may only be used at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A8. Camping may only be undertaken at the following locations and according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A9. Within the permitted area, the permit holder must not disturb the following ecologically significant locations: [specify location and condition].

A10. Within the permitted area the following provisions should be made to reduce bycatch: [specify location and condition].

A11. The relevant NPWS office must be notified in advance of all activity in non-public areas including all activity under the permit: [specify location and condition].

A12. Locked gate access will be managed through the implementation of a key redundancy program. Key holders will be required to return their key to the relevant local NPWS office each year for re-issue. Any key provided under the commercial fishing access permit may only remain valid for 12 months. Upon renewal of commercial fishing access permits a valid replacement key may be provided where necessary. Please note the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A13. Vehicles and other equipment required for commercial fishing may only access the beaches according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

A14. Machinery, equipment or materials required for commercial fishing or aquaculture may only be stored in existing cleared areas adjacent to existing trails, and at the following locations, according to the following conditions: [specify location and condition].

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

Objectives

This policy is intended to:

  • efficiently and transparently manage commercial fishing access in parks
  • protect park values.

Scope and application

This policy applies only to commercial fishers and aquaculture permit holders who are licensed under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and who are proposing to access parts of parks that are normally closed to the public. It does not apply to recreational, charter or Indigenous fishing.

In this policy ‘commercial fishing’ includes the activities of both commercial fishers and aquaculture permit holders.

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (the NPW Act), including lands managed by NPWS under Part 11 of the Act. This policy does not apply to lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy.

Definitions and abbreviations

Authorised vehicle means the vehicle identified in this permit to be used by the permit holder to access the site.

Chief Executive means the Chief Executive of OEH.

Commercial fishing includes activities carried out by a person who holds a commercial fishing licence under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and by a person who holds an aquaculture permit under the Act.

Fishing activity means the activity of taking fish (as defined in the Fisheries Management Act 1994), which includes:

  • searching for fish
  • any activity that can reasonably be expected to result in the locating, aggregating or taking of fish
  • carrying fish by boat from the place where they are taken to the place where they are to be landed.

Minister means the Minister administering the National parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act).

NPW Act means the National parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

NPW Regulation means the National parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

NPWS means the NSW National parks and Wildlife Service.

NPWS branch office means the NPWS office which granted this permit.

OEH means the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the NPW Act, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, state conservation area, karst conservation reserve, regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the NPW Act. A park includes a park managed jointly with the Aboriginal community under Part 4A of the Act.

Permit holder means the person whose name appears on this permit and includes, where relevant, the employees, contractors or agents of that person.

Site means the area or areas that the permit holder is permitted to access using the authorised vehicle for the purpose of commercial fishing or aquaculture.