WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) welcome the announcement that, if elected, an LNP government would retain Queensland’s net free zones.
Net free zones in Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton were introduced in November 2015.
“Net free zones provide a safe haven for marine life and are a bonus for tourism operators and recreational fishers. The LNP’s announcement also gives the commercial fishing industry certainty,” said WWF-Australia fisheries spokesperson Jim Higgs.
“We are pleased the LNP has recognised the benefits of net free zones, which have wide public support,” said AMCS fisheries spokesperson Tooni Mahto.
WWF-Australia and AMCS said they look forward to working with the current and next Queensland government to deliver the urgently needed transformation of Queensland fisheries.
Both organisations called for the LNP to commit funding to deliver the reforms outlined in the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, a reform process started in 2012 with the Newman Government’s review of the industry.
“The next Queensland Government has a clear mandate for a root and branch overhaul of the management and operation of Queensland fisheries. In 2016, over 9,000 people supported the need for vital changes to the current system,” said Miss Mahto.
WWF-Australia and the AMCS also called for Labor and the LNP to support an end to commercial gill netting in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area between Cooktown and the Torres Strait.
“This 85,000 sq kilometre stretch is one of the last global strongholds for dugongs and provides crucial habitat for the critically endangered Bizant River shark, green sawfish, and hundreds of species of fish and turtles,” said Mr Higgs.
Only 5-10 commercial gill netting licences have been used in this region since 2014, landing between 10 and 30 tonnes of fish a year.
Removing these would provide a big environmental win at minimal economic and social cost.