The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the conviction of a commercial fisher who flouted Queensland’s fishing laws brought in as part of the government’s commitment to improving the sustainability of the state’s fishing industry.
His offences included failing to report a catch of sharks and failing to ensure his boat was fitted with vessel tracking equipment.
Moreton Bay commercial fisher Mark Edward Rilley amassed the charges over a period of several months from December 2018. He pleaded guilty to 26 charges and was handed a $25,000 fine by a magistrate earlier this week.
Simon Miller, Great Barrier Reef Fisheries Campaign Manager at AMCS, said the conviction showed the Queensland government’s fisheries reforms were working to stamp out unsustainable fishing practices that were harmful to the environment and unfair to other fishers doing the right thing.
“Vessel tracking was a rule introduced in Queensland in January 2019 and is vital to ensure fishing is legal, particularly in marine parks like Moreton Bay and the Great Barrier Reef,” he said. “The tracking is used to ensure no fishing takes place in no take zones. These are areas in marine parks that have been earmarked for special protection and which research has shown can improve fish stocks in surrounding areas.
“It is an important legal requirement for fishers to accurately report their catch, including that of scalloped hammerhead sharks, as well as their interactions with threatened species like turtles and dugongs, all of which are found in the Moreton Bay area. Those who do not follow these rules are undermining the sustainability of Queensland fisheries to the detriment of other commercial fishers, as well as the health of populations of iconic Queensland wildlife in areas for everyone to enjoy. ”
Mr Miller said that many fishers are abiding by the regulations but this case highlights the importance of commercial fishers being responsible stewards of the areas they fish.
“We would also like to see the Queensland government continue its regulatory reform of State fisheries to make them sustainable. We urgently need to see cameras on board fishing vessels, to put an end to the misreporting of catches in Queensland and ensure that fish stocks and threatened species can be managed sustainably.”