Aerial and on-water patrols will be out in force over the September school holidays and the October long weekend as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority cracks down on illegal recreational fishers at known hotspots.
Compliance patrols are running day and night from the water, air and land with particular attention on locations prone to high levels of illegal activity (see target areas by region below).
Recreational fishing offences accounted for 56 per cent of all Marine Park offences last financial year, an increase on the 43 per cent reported in 2015–16.
While the total number of reported offences across the Marine Park was lower overall, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management director Chris Cochrane said it was concerning illegal recreational fishing was becoming a bigger problem.
“While we want to see people out in the Marine Park enjoying it, there is no excuse for illegal fishing,” Mr Cochrane said.
“If you’re caught fishing in a green zone you can expect a $2100 infringement notice, or potential prosecution in court.
“Any poaching in marine protected areas is treated as a serious offence — the cumulative impacts of illegal fishing can have significant ecological impacts and threaten Reef resilience.”
The Authority is taking a no-tolerance approach to recreational fishers caught doing the wrong thing, with compliance officers issuing 26 infringement notices since 1 July, equating to about $50,000 in fines.
Mr Cochrane said Marine Park visitors needed to know where they were at all times when on the water.
The best way to do this is by using a GPS unit, knowing how zones are displayed on it, and cross checking your location with a free zoning map.
Members of the public can also help to protect the Reef by reporting suspected illegal fishing and other activities to 24-hour hotline 1800 380 048 or via an online incident report form.
Free zoning maps are available at bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, ship chandlers, and Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices; or by calling (07) 4750 0700. They can also be downloaded from our website. where you can find more information about responsible fishing practices.
Shoals east of Port Clinton, Barcoo Bank, Capricorn-Bunker group (particularly the One Tree Island no-access orange zone) and Warrego Shoals
Whitsundays and Mackay
Catalina aircraft wreck and shoals off Bowen, Whitsunday Islands, Brampton Island, Keswick Island, and Bushy and Redbill Islets.
Palm Island Group, Magnetic Island, Bowling Green Bay and spit and the Yongala wreck
Innisfail and Mission Beach
Feather and Nathan Reefs, Beaver and Taylor Reefs, Dunk and surrounding islands.
Norman Reef to Green Island, Scott Reef, and wrecks in green zones.