Overdue protections for Queensland’s iconic marine wildlife including dolphins, dugongs and turtles have again been ignored in the Queensland Government’s latest round of fishing reforms, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
But vital new measures, including the expansion of vessel tracking and the setting of catch limits for overfished pearl perch and snapper, were important steps in the reform process, says Tooni Mahto, AMCS fisheries campaign manager.
Mahto said some key reforms had been overlooked, and it was essential these were introduced in an expected further round of reforms before the end of the year.
Mahto said: “Wildlife gets killed in gillnets in Queensland fisheries and the highest risk areas are in the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria. But there is nothing yet in the reforms that addresses this major issue for our iconic wildlife.
“We have asked for there to be science-based caps on these so called ‘interactions’ with wildlife and for independent monitoring such as on-boat cameras. Reforms like this are vital if the public is to be confident that fishing is being done in a genuinely sustainable way.”
Mahto said the expansion of vessel tracking to all commercial boats from 1 January 2020 was “essential to make sure commercial fishers don’t fish in marine sanctuaries or areas that have been temporarily closed.”
“This vessel tracking is a key piece of the Palaszczuk Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy and the Government and the Minister are to be congratulated,” said Mahto.
Vital reforms that have not been addressed include:
- Closing a loophole that would rule out live shark finning in all Queensland state waters
- Independent monitoring on vessels
- Breaking East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery into regions to allow finer scale management
Mahto added: “The Queensland Government seems to have its eyes firmly fixed on reforming its fisheries so that there is still enough seafood to keep the commercial industry going, while protecting populations of fish for future generations.
“Having a ban on recreational fishers taking hammerhead sharks is a good step, but we still have a fishery catching and dumping thousands of hammerhead sharks in and around the Reef. That’s a big risk to hammerhead shark populations and it’s not being addressed.
“There are still some big gaps in these reforms and until these are addressed, we will have too many seafood species from Queensland that are red listed in Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide. We are seeing a rising demand for truly sustainable seafood, and this is a market that Queensland is in danger of losing out on.”
AMCS media advisor Graham Readfearn 0406 241 081.
Notes: The Queensland Government has consulted on a potential reform known as “Fins Naturally Attached” that exists everywhere other than in Queensland, WA and Northern Territory state fisheries. This law would ensure that commercial fishers catching shark cannot cut the fins off the shark until they are back on shore.