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From March 1, for a 12-month trial period, the NSW Government has introduced a ban on catching the Eastern Blue Groper (pictured). Image: contributed

Ban on NSW state fish – Eastern Blue Groper

Rodney Stevens


Catching the NSW state fish – the Eastern Blue Groper – by any method will be banned from March 1 as part of a 12-month trial by the NSW government to protect the iconic species.

While the Eastern Blue Groper has been protected from spearfishing in NSW since 1969, and commercial fishing since 1980, the changes announced last week prohibit all other forms of fishing, including line fishing, with stiff penalties for those caught breaking the law.

Due to the cultural significance of the species to First Australians, the ban does not apply to Aboriginal cultural fishing.

Eastern Blue Gropers are found on coastal reefs from Hervey Bay, Qld, to Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, a state in which they are fully protected.

During the trial, NSW DPI Fisheries staff will consult with stakeholders and the community on longer term changes to Eastern Blue Groper fishing rules.

The 12-month prohibition trial comes after two recent incidents where spearfishermen killed Eastern Blue Gropers.

In December 2023, a 26-year-old man was fined $800 after he speared a large male Eastern Blue Groper at Cronulla, with speculation the fish may have been the well-known “Gus the Groper”.

Then on January 5, a man allegedly speared three Eastern Blue Gropers near Jervis Bay.

Anyone caught taking Eastern Blue Groper in NSW by any method will face a $500 penalty infringement notice and/or a maximum court-imposed fines of $22,000 or imprisonment for 6 months (or both) for a first offence, and $44,000 or imprisonment for 12 months (or both) for a second or subsequent offence.

For more information visit,protection%20of%20this%20iconic%20species.