Fisheries reforms announced by the Queensland government today are a vital part of reforming the state’s commercial fisheries, but more is needed to help endangered marine wildlife, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.
The changes announced form part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027.
The new rules mean better management of sharks caught in the Great Barrier Reef, and huge fisheries will be broken down into smaller regions making the management of fish stocks easier to control. This will improve the sustainability of the state’s fisheries and is good news, says AMCS Fisheries and Threatened Species campaign manager Tooni Mahto.
However, vital components are missing, including independent monitoring and measures that stop threatened species like dugongs and turtles from dying in killer gillnets.
Earlier this month, Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, informed the Queensland Government that, as they were in breach of conditions attached to the environmental accreditation of a key Queensland fishery that operates within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the export license of that fishery would be revoked. The revocation comes into force today (September 30).
The reforms announced today do not go far enough, and mean the Queensland government will continue to fail to meet agreed conditions for sustainable fishing in the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (ECIFFF).
Ms Mahto said: “These reforms are welcome progress towards sustainable fishing in Queensland waters, but there is a long way to go before wildlife gets the protection it needs, particularly in the Great Barrier Reef.
“Moving commercial fishing in Queensland towards a more modern system by regionalising huge fisheries is a welcome step from the Queensland government, meaning fish stocks in different areas can be more meaningfully monitored and catch rates capped where they need to be to keep fishing sustainable.
“However, urgent and outstanding reforms remain if the government is to stop the deaths of dugongs, turtles and dolphins in fishing nets on our Great Barrier Reef.
“For the resilience of the Reef, to give it the best chance of adapting to warming waters as a result of climate change, commercial fishing needs to be managed to a gold standard. These regulations are a big step towards ensuring this is the case but significant work remains to be done.
“We are looking forward to working with any Queensland Government to deliver a long term vision for more sustainable fisheries in Queensland waters. It will lead to better outcomes for iconic marine wildlife and will help ease the pressure on our Reef.
“We call both sides in the upcoming state election to commit to the sustainable fisheries plan to protect marine wildlife, as well as the interests of commercial and recreational fishing and tourism long into the future,” concluded Ms Mahto.