Reef Authority ramps up compliance patrols

Day and night compliance patrols across the Great Barrier Reef are ramping up over the next few weeks, as part of an ongoing effort to deter illegal fishing and help protect the marine environment.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Director for Operations Chris Cochrane said compliance patrols in the air and in the water could detect illegal activity, even at night and in remote areas.

“Late September is a known high-risk period for non-compliance in the Marine Park, and fishers are reminded to know the zoning rules to avoid fines of $2200 for fishing in no-take areas,” he said.

“Investment into our compliance program means there are more staff, better boats, and better technology which has led to more effective patrols.

“We now have boats and surveillance aircraft with thermal surveillance capability, which allows us to capture fishing activity from a distance at night.

“We can detect fishers who perceive low light conditions as an opportunity to fish illegally, and those fishers intentionally fishing at night and in remote locations in no-take zones are getting caught.”

A recent example of this is locals who were caught after targeting a no-take zone at around 8pm, as a result of night-time compliance patrols south-west of Cape Tribulation.

Fishing, unknowingly or not, is not allowed within a no-take Marine National Park (Green) Zone.

“Every act of illegal fishing impacts the Reef and the livelihoods that depend on it, and we encourage Reef visitors to know and follow the rules,” Mr Cochrane said.

“There are many ways to access zoning information, such as a GPS chart plotter zoning displayed, zoning maps, or download the free Eye on the Reef app.

“Most of the Reef is open to fishing — there really is no need or excuse for illegal fishing.”

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