Marine aquarium collectors working together today for a healthier Reef tomorrow

Published: 13/09/2011

A voluntary moratorium on coral collecting is in place in a substantial area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park's Keppels area, thanks to a partnership between marine managers and the peak body for marine aquarium collectors.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Fisheries Queensland and Pro-vision Reef activated Fisheries Queensland's Coral Stress Response Plan 2009 and the industry's Stewardship Action Plan.

The voluntary move to help minimise the impacts of collecting follows this year's extreme weather, where flood plumes affected sites throughout the Keppel's region.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt commended licensed marine aquarium collectors for taking these extra steps to protect the marine environment.

"We welcome the work by Pro-Vision Reef to protect the Great Barrier Reef and to ensure the industry is ecologically sustainable in the long-term," he said.

"In a fisheries first, the Stewardship Action Plan provides an accountable framework for fishers to explicitly begin to address ways to deal with climate change impacts like coral bleaching.

"It provides a way to respond to varying levels of coral stress and sees fishers voluntarily modify their collection practices.

"Importantly, this is backed up with a regional approach to limiting collecting in the Keppels to allow this area that has experienced extreme weather impacts to recover."

Dr Reichelt said licensed operators fished in a sustainable way, using a highly selective hand collection method and maintaining an extensive range of dive sites to spread fishing effort.

Among those is Cairns Marine, an operation that supplies marine life from the Great Barrier Reef for display in aquariums around the world.

Cairns Marine is the first participant in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's marine aquarium fish and coral collection Reef Guardian Fisher pilot program.

The Reef Guardian Fishers program showcases fishers who fish sustainably and maintain the health of the Great Barrier Reef while building a viable future for their fishery, their business and the Reef.

"Cairns Marine is an innovator in their industry and the first Reef Guardian Fisher in the marine aquarium fish and coral collection fishery," Dr Reichelt said.

Collecting is a harvest fishery primarily managed through the Queensland Government's Fisheries Queensland.

Activities are licensed by Fisheries Queensland and are permitted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to operate in the Marine Park in accordance with strict conditions.

This includes highly detailed logbook reporting, quota monitoring, ecological risk assessments with input from scientific experts, and monitoring harvesting practices.


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