It is universally accepted that the generally public cannot be stopped from fishing in the sea and rivers and estuaries. In fact, international law clearly demarcates the borders of countries stretching out into the sea beyond which there are no restrictions on fishing. However, these laws related to deep sea fishing are mainly related to commercial fishing and individual anglers, of course, do not figure in these circumstances.
For fishing enthusiasts, there is a host of restrictions too. They cannot indulge in their passion in specific lakes set aside by the Government of the land. Even the species and the size of the catch are often controlled depending on their abundance or shortage in certain water bodies at specific times of the year.
However, fishing in private property has its own set of rules and regulations. By law, the public at large cannot fish in non-tidal waters as that right to fish rests solely on the owner of the soil under those waters. But in case the soil under the non-tidal waters belongs to the Crown, the public has free access to these areas for fishing. Just to be sure about the legal aspects, you will do well to get in touch with a commercial property lawyer and be informed of your rights and privileges.
If you are planning to fish on private property, two scenarios emerge. The first is where the pond or lake or the water body belongs to an individual and he/she has sole ownership of the soil under the water. The second is where the only road to a fishing area passes through private property and reaching the fishing site without taking the requisite permissions would amount to trespassing.
Fishing on Private Property – Fishing access to private property does not require any licences in almost all states in Australia, but there are clearly certain rules that you should follow. It should be kept in mind that the onus of acknowledging the owner’s right to privacy depends solely on you.
Sometime before your fishing expedition, you should take some time off to visit the property or make a phone call or send an email to the owner requesting for permission to fish on his property. It is advisable that you give as much information as possible to the owner straight away – name and address, date of fishing, make and registration of your car and the number of people who will be with you. You should also undertake not to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the property, not to take dogs or guns inside, not to light fires unless specifically allowed by the landowner and stay as close to the fishing areas as possible without wandering all over the estate.
Once you have reached the property, contact the owner and inform about your arrival even if you have got the necessary permissions over phone or mail.
Access to Angling Locations over Private Property – Permission for access to angling locations over private property is by no means automatic and permission has to be taken in advance by phone, mail or even through a visit some time before the fishing date. For the legal implications if you don’t follow these steps, consult a reputed property lawyer in Melbourne or wherever you are planning to go. He/she will inform you of the specific laws in this regard.
If you have been given permission to drive across the property and reach the angling location, do stay on the trail and don’t step onto standing crops or disturb stock or create any damage or nuisance whatsoever.
Finally, permission granted is for one time only and not in perpetuity. Every time you visit the property fresh permissions is required.