Commercial and non-commercial use
periods. Relevant species include grey mackerel, golden snapper, barred grunter and black jewfish (the last two are assessed as being at high ecological risk41). Loss of fish spawning aggregations leads to declines in fish populations through reduced recruitment, with negative ecological consequences.75 Spawning aggregations are recognised as a natural phenomenon that contributes to the Reef’s outstanding universal value.76 Fishing activities can also cause physical damage to the seabed and reef habitats. For example, trawl gear can cause direct physical impacts on habitats, such as altering the vertical relief of seabed features and redistributing sediments, and removing or damaging seabed plants and animals.77,78,79,80,81,82 Line fishing gear can cause physical damage to live coral tissue and coral colonies.83 Additionally some of the small vessels that have accidentally run aground and damaged reefs and shoals have been commercial and recreational fishing vessels. Fishing activities, both inside and outside the Region, can contribute to marine debris through loss of gear.84,85 Illegal fishing can cause serious effects on the Region’s ecosystem, especially by compromising the effectiveness of the zoning arrangements.86 Based on knowledge gained through compliance and enforcement activities and on field intelligence, high priority areas for enforcement include non-compliance with zoning requirements within the Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery, and with netting requirements in the East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery. Reliable information indicates illegal activity in the Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery continues to be significant despite the recent low number of offences detected.
Illegal fishing remains a concern, especially intentional targeting of protected zones.
Marine Park Authority87
Figure 5.14 possible offences reported to the Field Management compliance Unit, 2008–09 to 2012–13 Possible recreational fishing offences are the most commonly reported. The spike in 2012–13 reflects a greater surveillance focus. (Note: ‘Other’ offences include those related to vessel groundings, pollution, recreational not related to fishing (e.g. island national park offences), wildlife, research and moorings). Source: Great Barrier Reef