Populations of sharks, rays, dolphins, and marine turtles along Queensland’s coast are all facing a “high risk” of being damaged by the state’s largest commercial fishery, according to an official state government assessment.
The “high risk” rating for some of Queensland’s most iconic marine species was revealed in the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery’s Ecological Risk Assessment that was quietly released in late May.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says while the result of the assessment is a major concern, the report also shows why the Queensland Government’s fisheries reform strategy needs to be implemented quickly.
Tooni Mahto, AMCS threatened species campaign manager, said: “Without reform, this huge net fishery, that fishes in the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, is pushing species down the path towards extinction. Ecologically, it’s just too risky.
“This ecological risk assessment is a clear sign that reform is well overdue, but thankfully due to community pressure, the Queensland Government is working to get this job done.”
The Queensland Government’s assessment of the fishery categorises a range of issues and species based on the level of risk that the fishery poses.
The risk to marine turtles, dolphins and sawfish were all categorised as “high”, with dugongs categorised as “intermediate/high”. The risk to all sharks, which are targeted for meat and fins in the fishery including the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, is also categorised as “high”.
Mahto added: “This fishery needs to change course. The public wants world class fisheries that are sustainable and that don’t kill our precious ocean wildlife, including endangered sharks.”.
Mahto said the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was now in the third year of a ten-year reform process, with the government prioritising reform of three fisheries, including the east coast net fishery.
She added: “We need the Queensland Government to make sure that changes to the fishery prioritise the protection of Queensland’s iconic marine wildlife.”
AMCS Media Advisor Graham Readfearn 0406 241 081