Frequently asked questions - crocodile egg harvesting

    How do I apply for a licence to harvest crocodile eggs?

    You will need to complete an application form (DOCX, 156.9KB) to apply for a commercial wildlife harvesting licence for estuarine crocodile eggs.

    You must provide a harvesting proposal and report of research about the state of the local crocodile population with your application.

    Before lodging your application, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the Nature Conservation (Estuarine Crocodile) Conservation Plan 2018, the Nature Conservation (Administration) Regulation 2017 and the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006, available from the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website.

    What is a harvesting proposal?

    When assessing an application, the department will review the harvesting proposal, in conjunction with the report of research, to assess the likely impact of the proposed egg harvesting activities. The harvesting proposal must state the following:

    • The area from which estuarine crocodile eggs will be taken, including a map showing the river systems and the property boundaries and a clearly indicated scale.
    • The start and end dates of the period during which estuarine crocodile eggs will be taken.
    • The way in which estuarine crocodile eggs will be taken. This may include, but not be limited to:
      • the estimated number of eggs that are likely to be taken during the period
      • the proportion of eggs proposed to be taken from each nest e.g. 50 percent
      • the proportion of nests in the area from which eggs are proposed to be taken
      • a description of the method proposed to collect, transport and process the eggs, including how this complies with the Code of practice on the humane treatment of wild and farmed Australian crocodiles.

    What is a report of research?

    A report of research must provide sound research-based information about the local crocodile population.

    When assessing an application, the department will review the report of research, in conjunction with the harvesting proposal, to assess the likely impact of the proposed egg harvesting activities.

    The report should include:

    • the research method
    • the results of the research, including the distribution and abundance of:
      • adult estuarine crocodiles in the local crocodile population
      • the nesting activity of the local crocodile population (including the estimated number of nests in the area)
    • an analysis and discussion of the likely impact of egg harvesting on the local crocodile population
    • an assessment of possible damage or disturbance to other wildlife or the environment that may occur when undertaking the proposed egg harvesting activities.

    An appropriately qualified person must prepare the report of research. This means the person must have qualifications and experience that are relevant to estuarine crocodile research.

    For more information, see:

    What is the 'local crocodile population'?

    The local crocodile population is the population of crocodiles in the area from which estuarine crocodile eggs would be harvested under a licence, if granted.

    Will crocodile egg harvesting have an impact on the wild population of crocodiles?

    Harvesting of estuarine crocodile eggs in Queensland will only be authorised where it will not have a detrimental impact on the local crocodile population. There are strict requirements for what information must be provided to support a licence application so that the sustainability of the proposed activities can be assessed. In addition, monitoring will be undertaken to assess the ongoing sustainability of any egg harvesting in Queensland.

    Independent scientific research has found that harvesting of estuarine crocodile eggs can, in certain circumstances, be carried out in Queensland without any impact on the local population. For example, see Review of a Trial Harvest of Estuarine Crocodile Eggs in the Pormpuraaw Deed of Grant in Trust Lands and Recommendations as to an Experimental Commercial Harvest by Dr Laurence Taplin. (PDF, 3.1MB)

    Estuarine crocodiles in Northern Territory and Queensland form a continuous population inhabiting the coastal river systems. Crocodile egg harvesting in the Northern Territory has been allowed since the 1980s and has proven to be ecologically sustainable.

    What monitoring will be undertaken?

    Monitoring will occur in all areas where egg harvesting is authorised to ensure no impacts to the local crocodile population.

    The Department of Environment and Science will conduct annual crocodile population monitoring of the local crocodile population to ensure harvesting is not impacting the local crocodile population. Annual crocodile population monitoring will be required in all waterways subject to egg harvesting.

    Licence holders must undertake nest monitoring and provide these records to the Department of Environment and Science. This will provide information on the location of nests within the licenced area and the number of eggs in each nest in the area. This information will provide an indicator of any changes in the number of females that have been breeding each year and how many young are likely to be adding to the population.

    The Department of Environment and Science also undertakes periodic monitoring of the statewide crocodile population (PDF, 1.4MB) . In 2017 a three-year monitoring program commenced to comprehensively assess Queensland’s estuarine crocodile population and distribution trends in waterways from Gladstone to the Northern Territory border. The program will help provide a clear picture of the health of the crocodile population in Queensland.

    What compliance and enforcement activities will the Department undertake?

    The Department of Environment and Science will undertake a range of activities to ensure harvesting is not causing detriment to the local crocodile population and is undertaken in accordance with relevant legislation and licence conditions. Specifically, the department:

    • will collect data from licence holders on the harvest (including the location and numbers of eggs and nests), the movement, and the sale/giving away of all crocodile eggs.
    • may conduct random audits of egg harvesting activities and nest monitoring records.
    • may conduct random audits at licenced facilities to compare egg numbers held in comparison to egg numbers recorded.
    • may inspect a selection of permit holders at random intervals during the egg collection season.
    • will investigate any anomalies in egg numbers.

    For more information, see the Crocodile commercial activity compliance plan (PDF, 81.0KB) .

    Will crocodile egg harvesting make croc country safer?

    The harvesting of eggs will not alter the number of larger and potentially dangerous crocodiles in the wild. Anyone who enters crocodile habitat will need to act safely and stay Crocwise. Similarly, egg harvesting is not a way of culling crocodiles, or reducing numbers of adult crocodiles as it will have no impact on overall recruitment or the other animals that make up the wild population.

    Why is the Queensland Government allowing the harvest of crocodile eggs?

    The Northern Territory egg harvesting industry has been supplying eggs for commercial crocodile farms since the 1980s.

    In areas of Queensland where harvesting is authorised, the potential commercial gains for egg harvesters are anticipated to provide significant incentive for improved land stewardship. Managing land in such a way as to conserve crocodiles, and encourage crocodile nesting is anticipated to have broader benefits for land management and conservation, for example through improved control of feral animals.

    Crocodile egg harvesting is a potential employment opportunity, which may be significant for small or isolated regional communities where jobs can often be scarce. With many Indigenous communities in these areas, egg harvesting can also offer people ways to work on country and play a greater role in land management and care.

    Egg harvesting within Queensland will also give Queensland’s crocodile farmers the opportunity to access and grow more crocodiles without relying on the limited breeding capacity of farmed adult crocodiles, or buying eggs or hatchlings from interstate.