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Don’t hook or spear a fine these holidays!

With the holiday period here, visitors to the Great Barrier Reef are being reminded to keep doing the right thing when out in the Marine Park.

Compliance patrols over the last holidays found that recreational fishers are helping to protect the Reef by following zoning rules.

Aerial and sea surveillance teams reported fewer numbers of fishers doing the wrong thing, even in well-known illegal fishing hot spots.

But while the news was mostly good, Reef Authority Director of Field Management Operations, Chris Cochrane, said a handful of fishers continued to break the rules, particularly around Magnetic Island off Townsville.

“Magnetic Island was humming with activity over Easter, with most bays full of people enjoying their holidays and the fabulous conditions on the water,” Mr Cochrane said.

“But while it’s great to see so many visitors enjoying this beautiful part of our tropical north, we also unfortunately found several boats anchored in Gowrie Bay with people spearfishing within the Marine National Park (Green) Zone.

“Fishing in these no-take green zones around the island undermines the biodiversity of the reefs in these zones.

“The Marine National Park Zones around Magnetic Island are particularly sensitive due to their small size and the fact that fringing reefs around the island are very vulnerable,” Mr Cochrane said.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Senior Ranger (Compliance), Callum Teale-Browne said given the smaller size of these zones around Magnetic Island fishers shouldn’t just rely on landmarks for their location or attempt to fish close to the boundaries.

“It’s unfortunate that some spear fishers are breaking the law and putting the island’s reefs at risk.  That’s exactly why Green Zones were put in place – to protect these areas for future generations to appreciate.

“If you are planning to fish in the Marine Park these holidays you need to know where you can go and what you can do.  Penalties apply if you don’t follow the zoning rules, and remember these zones help all of us protect the Reef.

“Limited spearfishing is allowed in the General Use (Light Blue), and the Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zones in the Marine Park, while limited spearfishing is permitted in Conservation Park (Yellow) Zones unless there is a Public Appreciation Special Management Area in place over that Zone. These areas are shown as broken pink lines on the zoning maps, and no spearfishing is permitted within these areas,” Mr Teale-Browne said.

The Reef Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are urging users to continue to help protect the Reef by:

  • Spearing only what is needed
  • Not pursuing fish unless you are sure of their identity or size
  • Not anchoring on coral
  • Not anchoring within no-anchoring marker boundaries
  • Not taking plant-eating – fish such as parrot-fish, which remove algae and provide space for new corals to grow.

Magnetic Island residents and visitors are urged to report any suspicious activity including illegal spearfishing, to the 24-hour free hotline 1800 380 048, or online through the Reef Authority website.

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