GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
• Net — catch increased in the Babinda, Hinchinbrook, Bowling Green Bay, Bowen, Whitsunday, Mackay and Town of 1770 areas. The most significant decreases in catch occurred from Cairns north to Cape Grenville, just south of Cape York, with marked decreases also occurring in the Upstart Bay, Broadsound, Shoalwater Bay, Keppel Bay and Gladstone regions. • Line — catch increased in nearly all fishable reef areas from Cairns to Cape York, with marked increases of over 100 per cent in most fishable grids from Port Stewart to Cape York. In contrast, catch decreased for most areas of the eastern Swain Reefs area and offshore reefs east of Mackay, Bowen and Townsville. • Pot — spanner crab catch declined significantly in the Region’s far south lagoonal and deeper waters. Mud crab catch increased in the Hinchinbrook, Bowen and Whitsunday areas, with average annual catch in the most important mud crab producing area of Bowling Green Bay more than doubling in recent years. Decreases occurred in the Cairns, Mission Beach, Townsville, Upstart Bay, Shoalwater Bay and Keppel Bay areas. Commercial fishing harvests many species, across multiple ecological groups. Figure 5.13 shows the breakdown by ecological group for retained catch in the four largest commercial fisheries. Increasing fuel prices and the loss of crew to alternative opportunities related to mining continue to affect profitability33 and, in some cases, areas of operation of Great Barrier Reef fisheries. The strength of the Australian dollar has also put pressure on commercial fisheries. In this economic environment, exported product is less profitable and there is increasing competition in the local market from cheap imports. However, as many wild-caught fisheries throughout the world continue to be fully exploited or over exploited34, the economic value of the Region’s fisheries resources may increase.5 International demand for wild-caught Queensland seafood may increase pressure to further exploit currently fished resources (legally and illegally), target additional species, and develop intensive aquaculture within the Region and its catchment.5 Expected growth in aquaculture around the world35 (for example, aquaculture-raised coral trout are expected to be commercially viable in the near future36) may also lead to diversification within the Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery.
Fishing extracts mostly predators and particle feeders.
Figure 5.13 ecological groups retained by major commercial fisheries, 2007 and 2012
By far the majority of species retained by commercial fishing in the Region are predators and particle feeders. Data is for commercial retained catch only. Discarded catch and bycatch are not included. ‘Particle feeders’ includes filter feeders, detritivores and scavengers. Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry (Qld) 201328