The Palaszczuk Government has delivered on a key plank of its 10-year, $20 million Sustainable Fisheries Strategy with the passage of new legislation in Parliament today.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the Fisheries (Sustainable Fisheries) Bill made real changes in fisheries management possible for the first time.
“These changes are a critical step in providing the legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren and protecting jobs in our commercial and recreational fishing industries,” Mr Furner said.
“More compliance officers are patrolling our waters and black marketers are being shut down as part of the most sweeping reforms of Queensland’s fishing sector in our state’s history.
“We’re cracking down on black marketing and pushing forward with greater recognition of recreational, commercial and indigenous fishing interests.”
Mr Furner said the passage of the Bill delivered another reform milestone in the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, a key election and Great Barrier Reef commitment.
“A significant element of this is stronger compliance powers for Queensland Fisheries and Boating Patrol (QBFP) officers, and tougher penalties for those who sell seafood on the black market,” Mr Furner said.
“We now have 20 new officers out on the water safeguarding our fisheries resources.
“Just this week an illegally-modified boat seized as part of a black market fishing prosecution was destroyed by the QBFP.
“During consultation earlier this year, more than 90% of people said they wanted stronger compliance powers and heavier penalties for those flaunting the rules.”
The Government rejected amendments proposed by Opposition spokesman Tony Perrett and the LNP to gut the enforcement powers of Fisheries officers.
“The LNP amendment would have given black market fishers a five-day head start before their catch could be inspected,” Mr Furner said.
“That’s five days to cover their tracks, sell their ill-gotten gains and destroy the evidence under the LNP’s proposals.
“Such a betrayal of the commercial fishing industry would give free reign to black market fishers, devastating the jobs of our commercial fishers and leaving our oceans a fishless desert.”
The changes to the Fisheries Act aim to:
- Modernise the objectives of the Fisheries Act and recognise the interests of key stakeholder groups;
- Clarify the roles of the Fisheries Minister and the chief executive in the management of the State’s fisheries to allow for more responsive decision-making through the use of harvest strategies;
- Strengthen the enforcement powers and penalties to address serious fisheries offences such as black marketing; and
- Reduce complexity and remove redundant provisions.