New Gulf of Carpentaria gillnet-free areas

Following months of persistent lobbying from AFTA, Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner has announced the new gillnet-free areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria, which will take effect on 17 May 2024.

AFTA unreservedly supports Queensland Fisheries Minister Mark Furner’s plan to remove gillnets in the Gulf, just as we did the removal of gillnets on the Queensland East Coast.

AFTA thanks Minister Furner for consulting with AFTA, listening to its concerns, and taking strong, rapid, and positive action.

AFTA will continue our focus with the Northern Territory Government to make the whole of the Gulf gillnet free as well.


Gillnet-free areas will be closed to all commercial gillnetting in:

  • Northern Gulf of Carpentaria—all waters within the defined area from Boyd Point north to Cape York.
  • Western Gulf of Carpentaria—all waters within the defined area from the border with the Northern Territory east to Point Parker, including all N3 waters around the Wellesley Islands.
    • Outside of the defined Western Gulf of Carpentaria gillnet-free area, fishing with gillnets can continue between Point Parker and John’s Creek.
    • The existing Wellesley Islands Protected Wildlife Area has important measures in place to protect interactions with protected wildlife, and these will be extended into the adjacent rivers and creeks on the mainland areas open to fishing west of Burketown.
  • Norman River—all remaining waters of the Norman River and associated tributaries.
  • Pormpuraaw—all waters within the defined area from north of Balurga Creek to south of the Chapman River.
  • Topsy Creek—all waters within the defined area between north of the South Mitchell River to south of Horse Creek.

Gulf of Carpentaria gillnet-free area maps show the closure locations.

Prohibited activities

In the gillnet-free areas, a person cannot:

  • possess a cast net, mesh net, seine net or set pocket net for taking a fish for trade or commerce, unless the net is stowed and secured on a boat
  • possess a relevant net to take a fish for trade or commerce.

AFTA questioned if the cast net restrictions applied to recreational fishers, the response was:

Dear Bob
As discussed, I can confirm that the recent announcements about commercial net fishing rules in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Friday 3 May) do not impact recreational or charter fishers.
Dallas D’Silva
Executive Director
Fisheries Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Other Gulf measures

Other measures considered during the recent Gulf of Carpentaria inshore fishery consultation will be progressed during 2024–25, including:

  • short to medium-term actions to rebuild king threadfin stocks
  • implementation of a new harvest strategy for the Gulf
  • new commercial catch limits and improved reporting arrangements
  • implementation of independent onboard monitoring.