A get-tough approach to Fisheries enforcement will help to protect jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing sectors.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said more than nine out of ten local fishers did the right thing and followed the rules, but fishing stocks needed to be protected for everyone.
“In the Mackay/Whitsunday region over the last year the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol found a 92 per cent compliance rate with fishing regulations,” Mrs Gilbert said.
“That high level of compliance shows the vast majority of our fishers are doing the right thing.
“We want to improve the sustainability of the fishery so it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
In the year to June, Fisheries officers issued 82 fines totalling more than $68,000 and 123 cautions in the Mackay/Whitsunday region.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said across the state the QBFP carried out 22,407 inspections across the state, detecting a total of 2,460 offences in the last financial year.
He said the most common fisheries-related offence over the past 12 months was recreational fishers breaching size and possession limits for regulated fish species.
“It is vitally important that anyone thinking about casting a line in Queensland knows and follows our state’s fishing regulations,” Mr Furner said.
“Our state’s fisheries resources belong to all Queenslanders and it is our job to protect fish for the future.
“Fish stocks are a resource that belong to all Queenslanders and protecting them protects thousands of jobs in both the commercial and recreational sectors.”
Mr Furner said the Queensland Government had introduced tough new penalties for black marketing and had consulted with key stakeholders and the public for more than two years on a range of proposed changes to fisheries regulations.
“Currently there is no limit on many of our major target species, no certainty for commercial fishers to allow business planning, and significant competition and conflict on the water,” Mr Furner said.
“Years of consultation and scientific stock assessments have told us that doing nothing is not an option.”
The Government’s get-tough approach on illegal fishing includes fines up to $390,000 and up to three years imprisonment, while QBFP officers have been given greater search powers and more technology to carry out enforcement duties.
That includes the rollout of drones for investigation work, including one based in Mackay.
“By its nature, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol field work can be hazardous and officers at times operate in difficult and often isolated environments,” Mr Furner said.
“The new drones will allow Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers to monitor marine habitats and fishing operations from Midge Point to Saint Lawrence and anywhere in between from a distance.
“Ten drones have been deployed around the state, including to the Gold Coast, Warwick, Noosa, Hervey Bay Bundaberg, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Karumba and in Brisbane, with trained pilots in each of these locations.
“Footage from these drones could be used to gather intelligence, prosecute people who break the rules and support training of the Marine Animal Rescue Teams.
“Body-worn cameras and new surveillance kits have also been rolled out across the State to help officers do their job and help identify anybody breaking the rules.”