Media Release Fisheries

A step forwards, but miles to go before Queensland’s fisheries can claim sustainability

March 1, 2019

The Australian Marine Conservation Society welcomes the passage of the Fisheries (Sustainable Fisheries) Bill in the Queensland Parliament today. Moves to reduce illegal fishing and black marketing are are welcomed, however the Queensland Government still has many miles to go before it can claim to be managing its fisheries sustainably.

In particular, AMCS welcomes moves to increase the number of fisheries officers on the water, improve their powers and implement Vessel Monitoring Systems on commercial fishing vessels. These measures will clamp down on illegal fishing and make it harder for rogue fishers to sell seafood on the black market.

Adrian Meder, AMCS Sustainable Seafood Program Manager said, “These are welcome advances after the previous Queensland Government slashed resources for fishery monitoring and compliance. These resources should be returned to ensure the new laws effectively protect Queensland’s iconic and threatened marine life such as turtles, dolphins, and dugongs from fishing impacts.

“Historical cuts to resourcing for fishery monitoring and compliance are a key reason that too many Queensland fisheries are red-listed in Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide. We want to improve the ranking of red-listed Queensland fisheries as soon as possible, for the good of seafood lovers, fishers and our marine life. These reforms, well implemented, will go a long way towards that but there is more work to be done”.

Dr. Leonardo Guida, AMCS Senior Shark Campaigner said, “If the Queensland Government wants to create truly sustainable fisheries, then industrial-sized gillnetting will need to cease. Shark gillnets are indiscriminately ensnaring and drowning threatened species such as dugongs, dolphins, and the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark.

“Sharks are critical to the overall health and resilience of the Reef because they keep the food web in check. Tragically, endangered hammerhead sharks are particularly vulnerable to gillnets because the shape of their head. Shark gillnets come at too high a price for our Great Barrier Reef, an ecosystem already under immense pressure.”

AMCS supports the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. We call upon the Government to act on its promises to improve the Reef’s health by removing industrial-sized gillnets to ensure our most vulnerable species are protected.

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide rankings for Queensland fisheries can be found here:

For Media contact:

AMCS Communications Manager, Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731

Additional Information

  1. Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) were made compulsory on all commercial fishing vessels as of January 1, 2019. VMS allows the real-time tracking of a vessel by the Queensland Department of Fisheries.
  2. Industrial-sized gillnets used in Queensland can measure between 600m and 1200m long. Nets up to 600m can be used in waters <20m deep, and nets up to 1200m in waters >20m deep.
  3. Scalloped hammerhead sharks are listed as a ‘Conservation Dependent’ species on the EPBC Act, Australia’s federal environmental laws. The listing category allows continued fishing for species that would normally qualify for stricter protection.

Investigations by AMCS and WWF-Australia suggest the number of protected species caught in the fishery is under-reported by commercial fishers – Queensland abandoned its independent observer program in 2012.