Future Queenslanders will continue to get access to fresh local seafood and thousands of jobs will be protected under changes to fisheries regulations that come into effect today.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the changes were part of the Palaszczuk Government’s plan to protect fish for the future.
“Our state’s fisheries belong to all Queenslanders and it is our job to protect fish for the future,” Mr Furner said.
“Some of our fish stocks like scallops, snapper and pearl perch are at risk, with stock levels under the nationally recommended 20 per cent biomass level.
“If we do nothing now, we will have to take more drastic steps like they are proposing in South Australia with the closure of the snapper season for three years.
“Quite simply, if there are no fish, there is no fishing industry here in Queensland.
“Introducing catch limits for at risk species and continuing to crack down on illegal fishing will help us rebuild numbers.”
Changes for commercial fishers include:
- Establishing new total allowable commercial catch limits of 42 tonnes for snapper and 15 tonnes for pearl perch. There is currently no catch limit on these species.
- Expanding vessel tracking for remaining commercial fishing boats from 1 January 2020
- Small area closures to protect juvenile prawns in South East Queensland to improve profitability for trawl operators
Fisheries Queensland will soon send affected commercial fishing licence holders detailed information about the new commercial catch limits and reporting requirements.
Mr Furner said almost 1 million Queenslanders went recreational fishing in the state last year.
“To ensure recreational fishers can continue to catch fish, we need to have sensible limits to protect fish for the future,” he said.
Changes for recreational fishers include:
- Introducing new annual seasonal closures for snapper and pearl perch from 15 July – 15 August.
- New boat limits, which hold the operator of the boat responsible for ensuring no more than two times the possession limit for nine priority black market species – mud crab, prawns, snapper, black jewfish, barramundi, Spanish mackerel, shark, tropical rock lobster, sea cucumber –is on board at any time. For example, the personal in-possession limit of mud crab will be 7 and the boat limit will be 14. The boat limit does not apply to charter boats.
- General possession limit of 20 fish, excluding bait.
- Reducing mud crab limit from 10 to 7.
Queensland Seafood Marketers Association President Marshall Betzel said the changes were just part of the overall strategic reforms that industry has been waiting for.
“The QSMA is hopeful these regulation changes will play an important part in providing not just a sustainable supply of seafood products to the consumer, but also create a long-term vision for growth in the Queensland seafood industry,” Mr Betzel said.
“We hope these reforms will help provide long term jobs growth in the industry as well was provide a better degree of certainty of supply for future generations of seafood consumers.”
Minister Furner said introducing the changes now meant we would continue to have Queensland fish on the table, protect thousands of jobs in both the commercial and recreational sectors and protect our marine ecosystem and the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Palaszczuk Government has comprehensively consulted over the past two years on these reforms,” Mr Furner said.
“There has been a lot of myths about these changes and what it means for fishing in Queensland.
“I encourage anyone who loves to fish to find out for themselves how the Palaszczuk government is protecting fish stocks for our children and grandchildren by visiting our website, fisheries.qld.gov.au“.