Commercial fishers working today for a healthier Great Barrier Reef

Published: 19/07/2011

A new environmental program to be officially launched in Gladstone today sees commercial fishers teaming up with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to help protect the Great Barrier Reef for the future.

The Reef Guardian Fishers pilot program showcases the good environmental work fishers are undertaking to help protect the Reef and encourages others in the industry to get involved in similar activities.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt said good environmental activities out on the water were crucial for a healthy marine environment.

"The Great Barrier Reef is at a crossroad and decisions made in the next few years are likely to determine its long-term future," he said.

"The Reef Guardian Fishers program recognises those who take an innovative approach to their business operations and help to reduce pressures on the Reef.

"This is a unique and important partnership for the future of the Great Barrier Reef and the future of the commercial fishing industry.

"While the Great Barrier Reef needs the support of fishers to ensure the Reef is sustainable, their positive action is also beneficial for their own business.

"A healthy reef ecosystem provides for a viable commercial fishing industry. There is also a need to adapt business practices to deal with impacts from climate change. "

The pilot program will initially focus on two fisheries - the Reef Line fishery and the Marine Aquarium and Coral Collection fishery. Among those participating is reef line fisher Gareth Andrew.

"Good environmental practices benefit the Reef, my business and my family," he said.

"We fish responsibly on the reef, we fish the right zones and we anchor carefully to prevent damage to coral.

"We fish in ways that maximise the health of fish populations.

"For example, non-stainless steel hooks corrode in saltwater and don't harm any fish that get away with a hook attached to them.

"We also release fish close to the reef so they can escape predators and get back to the reef safely.

"We recognise that for our business to be economically viable in the long term, we need a healthy marine environment and a resilient Great Barrier Reef."

Reef Guardian Fishers is part of a broader Reef Guardian Program, which also involves 13 Councils, over 200 schools and six cane farmers taking part in on-ground environmental projects that benefit the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority received a $3.8 million boost from the 2011 Federal Budget to expand the highly successful Reef Guardians stewardship program.

Participating fishers will be able to publically show their commitment to the Reef by displaying a Reef Guardian sign on their boats.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846