When boating and fishing in Kakadu, you are expected to obey laws created to protect the park's values. These include the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 and the Northern Territory Fisheries and Marine Acts.
These laws require you to carry the correct safety equipment in your vessel and observe fish possession limits. Northern Territory bag limits apply unless otherwise specified.
Commercial fishing is not permitted in Kakadu National Park.
Fishing tour operators may conduct tours with a current Kakadu National Park permit.
Watch Tourism Australia's clip on fishing in Kakadu
Live bait fishing is not permitted in Kakadu. Recreational fishing, using a line with a single hook or lure is permitted in waters west of the Kakadu Highway except in the West Alligator River system. A landing net may be used to land hooked fish. To provide refuge areas, fishing is not permitted in waters east of the Kakadu Highway except at the camping areas of Muirella Park (Djarradjin and Sandy Billabongs) and Jim Jim Billabong. Crab pots and taking crabs, firearms, traps, nets, spearguns and spears are prohibited in any Commonwealth Reserve.
Contact the Bowali Visitor Centre, telephone (08) 8938 1120 for latest information.
Fishing is allowed at the
- waters west of the Kakadu Highway except in the West Alligator River System.
- the camping areas of Muirella Park (Djarradjin Billabong),
- Sandy Billabong
- Jim Jim Billabong
Fishing is NOT allowed at the:
- waters east of the Kakadu Highway except for the areas described above
- waters in the West Alligator Rivers System
Fish possession limits
Kakadu National Park has the same catch limits as other parts of the Northern Territory. From 1 January 2010, each person may have the following numbers of managed species in their possession:
- five Barramundi (minimum overall length 55cm, fillet 27cm)
- two Black jewfish - previously five
- two Spanish mackerel - previously five
- five Golden snapper
- three sharks (sawfish may not be taken) - previously no limit
- The speartooth shark Glyphis glyphis and a river shark Glyphis garricki are threatened species and must not be taken
A general possession limit of 30 fish also applies to each person. This limit includes managed species. To assist with identification and effective enforcement:
- The entire skin must be left on fillets or trunks
- If a fillet is dissected, each portion will be considered a whole fillet and equal to half a fish
- Fillets of managed species must be kept separate from fillets of other species
Keep your hands well clear of the water, use a landing net at all times.
You may not use or possess nets, firearms, spears, traps or any device designed for taking an animal or fish other than:
- Rods or handlines with a single hook or lure attached
- Landing nets are permitted only for landing fish. They may not be used for any other purposes
- A live animal (including fish) cannot be used as bait
- Dead bait fish may be used only if caught within Kakadu Do not leave a fishing line unattended
- Do not tether fish
- Do not clean fish within 50 metres of a water body unless using a designated fish cleaning facility
- Crabs must not be taken
- Nets, traps and pots used for recreational fishing outside the Park may be transported into or through the park only along the Oenpelli Road, Arnhem Highway and Kakadu Highway. These items must be securely stowed at all times and not used
Boating on Kakadu's waterways can be dangerous due to strong currents, sand bars, submerged logs and crocodiles. For this reason use of non-motorised vessels (canoes) is prohibited.
Please let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. In tidal areas always carry life jackets, water, oars, flares, torch, tool kit, extra fuel and a satellite phone. Refer to the Northern Territory Marine Act signs for more detailed safety information.
Make sure you comply with NT Marine Safety legislation and have enough safety equipment for every person on board - life jackets, drinking water, oars, flares, torches, tool kit, extra fuel and a satellite phone
Ensure your boat and motor are in sound working order and drain plugs are tightly inserted
Check the tides. For Cahill's Crossing add five and a half hours to Darwin tide times. For the South Alligator River bridge, add four hours on to Darwin tide times
Check the weather. Where possible seek local knowledge. If in doubt, don't go out
Boating is prohibited in certain areas - check at the Bowali Visitor Centre for details.
Concrete boat ramps are located at the South Alligator River near the Arnhem Highway, the East Alligator River, Yellow Water, Mardugal and Jim Jim Billabong. Unsealed boat ramps are located at Waldak Irrmbal and Muirella Park.
Navigating on an outgoing or low tide can be hazardous. If in doubt seek local advice
Always remember, crocodiles occur near boat ramps.
- For your safety, be alert for crocodiles at all times.
- Keep away from the water's edge and do not enter the water.
- Take extreme care when launching and retrieving boats.
- Do not reach into the water to bring up a fish; use a landing net.
- Do not clean fish or bleed fish in or near the water's edge, as this may attract crocodiles.
- Remove all fish and food waste, which attract crocodiles.
Areas where motorised boats for recreational use are allowed:
- South Alligator River and associated billabongs, including Red Lily, Alligator and Leichhardt Billabongs on the South Alligator River;
- Ngurrungurrudjba (Yellow Water);
- Four Mile Hole;
- Two Mile Hole;
- the East Alligator River (except near the egret rookery near the mouth of the East Alligator River);
- Jim Jim, Mardugal and Home Billabongs on the Jim Jim Creek system;
- Djarradjin and Sandy Billabongs on the Nourlangie Creek system;
- the West Alligator River; and
- the Wildman River.
- Boating on the West Alligator River requires a permit.
Contact the Permits Officer on (08) 8938 1140 for more information.
See also the notes above on where you are permitted to fish within the park. If you have any doubts about where you can use your boat for fishing or other recreational activities, contact the Bowali Visitor Centre, telephone (08) 8938 1120.
Beware of salvinia
Salvinia is a free-floating aquatic fern native to South America. It was originally imported as an aquarium plant. It reproduces very rapidly by growing from small fragments. The areas between Yellow Water north to the South Alligator River, and the Magela Creek from Mudginberri to Nankeen Billabongs have been closed to boating as a quarantine measure. If boating near Salvinia please help stop this weed from choking Kakadu's wetland areas. Check your boat, trailer and car and remove any salvinia before moving on.
For more information contact us