Major new fishing bans put in place

 

SNAPPER and pearl perch will be illegal to catch for one month a year while the allowable take for a host of other species will be limited or changed under one of the biggest shake-ups for commercial and recreational fishers in a decade.

The Sunday Mail can reveal the Palaszczuk Government will bring in a major fishing changes from today (Sunday) including a ban on taking any snapper or pearl perch at all from July 15 to August 15 each year.

You can’t catch a pearl perch between July 15 and August 15, and if you do outside of those dates, it must be one that measures more than 38cm. Picture: Ben Dearnley
You can’t catch a pearl perch between July 15 and August 15, and if you do outside of those dates, it must be one that measures more than 38cm. Picture: Ben Dearnley

New minimum size limits for pearl perch of 38cm, king threadfin of 65cm, and Mary River and Murray cod of 60cm will also come in along with a maximum Murray cod size limit of 110cm. For commercial fishers those changes include a new total allowable commercial catch limits of 42 tonnes for snapper and 12 tonnes for pearl perch. Currently there is no commercial catch limit on snapper or peal perch in Queensland.READ THE FULL FISHERIES DOCUMENT

Some area closures to protect juvenile prawns in southeast Queensland. That will include strip closures between November 2 and March 1 each year at Stradbroke Island, Fraser Island and from Caloundra to Moreton Island.

The winter "no take" period for scallops will also be extended for a month and will now run from May 1 until November 30 in the southern inshore and offshore trawl regions while a new scallop effort cap will be brought in of 118, 635 units will be brought in for the southern inshore trawl region.

Vessel tracking for commercial fishing boats will also be expanded from January 1, next year.

Recreational fishers will be face a raft of new take restrictions like a reduction in the total take of mud crabs from 10 down to seven per person.

A new limit will be introduced for blue swimmer crab as well with recreational fishers only able to take up to 20.

The take for mollusc and gastropods including pipis will be more than halved, coming down from 50 to 30 while the pearl perch limit will drop from five to four.

Hammerhead sharks and white teatfish will be ruled no-take species from today while there will also be a boat limit of two times the take limits for nine "priority black-market species" including mud crab, prawns, snapper, black jewfish, barramundi, shark, Spanish mackerel, sea cucumber and tropical rock lobster.

That limit will not apply to charter boats, however.

There will also be a new general possession limit of 20 fish, excluding bait.

The changes are expected to be controversial, with fishers railing against them when the draft plans were announced early this year. The LNP has also questioned the move.

The mud crab is on the “priority black-market species” list.
The mud crab is on the “priority black-market species” list.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner, however, insisted the overhaul was the best way to ensure sustainability and to protect jobs in the long term.

"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," Mr Furner said.

"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."

Mr Furner said recreational fishers also had to carry some of the sustainability burden with the changes coming after more than two years of consultation,

"To ensure recreational fishers can continue to catch fish, we need to have sensible limits to protect fish for the future," he said.

Ross McCubbin from Lucky Strike Charters on the Gold Coast is not happy with the changes to the fishing laws, in particular regarding snapper fishing. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Ross McCubbin from Lucky Strike Charters on the Gold Coast is not happy with the changes to the fishing laws, in particular regarding snapper fishing. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Gold Coast Lucky Strike Charters operator, Ross McCubbin, said overall there were some palatable amendments, and he could understand the decision to decrease the pearl perch possession limit.

"I understand their decisions to decrease possession limits for mudcrabs and sand crabs as well," he said.

"Over time the fishing community had changed for the better... A lot of fishermen have changed their minds and become custodians of the water.

"People have become a lot more conservationist and only taking what they need."

But he said the ban on snapper possession would have a flow-on effect across the industry and for ocean life.

"To allow you to keep fishing for other fish and obviously releasing snapper if you catch it during the ban, it's obviously a shark problem, sharks are getting worse and worse and following boats, if you're out there and let every snapper go, they're going to get eaten by sharks and that's not good either."

President of the Gold Coast Game Fishing Club and father Ash Haigh from Coombabah with his kids Zander, 10 and Violet, 7. Picture: Nigel Hallett
President of the Gold Coast Game Fishing Club and father Ash Haigh from Coombabah with his kids Zander, 10 and Violet, 7. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Ash Haigh, president of the Gold Coast Game Fishing Club said some changes would have no real impact on the industry, but insisted a one-month ban on snapper fishing would not be received well.

"If you're not allowed to be in possession of snapper at that peak time of year, and you happen to catch one but have to release it, it won't survive swimming back down, it will die anyway," he said.

"If they want to protect snapper, they would need to ban fishing.

"The impact this stands to have on the charter industry, the local fishing shops, fuel sales and that loss of trade across the industry, the ramifications will be far and beyond and the same amount of fish will still die."