Trawl fisher becomes Reef Guardian

Published: 20/02/2015

Townsville local Neil Mogensen has become the first commercial trawl industry member to join the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian programme.

As part of the programme, commercial fishers work with GBRMPA to identify and deliver best fishing practices that help protect the marine environment and ensure sustainable fish stocks along the Great Barrier Reef.

Townsville commercial trawl operator Neil Mogensen is a second generation commercial fisherman who began working in the industry in 1998 and will be the first member of his industry recognised as part of the programme.

GBRMPA Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt said it was an important step to recognise those commercial trawl fishers who are operating at the highest environmental standard in the Great Barrier Reef and encourage others in the industry to adopt similar core operational fishing practices.

The Great Barrier Reef deserves its reputation as one of the best managed marine ecosystems in the world. This was confirmed by the release of the 2015 State Party Report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area which highlights improvements in the management and protection of the iconic reef.

“We remain committed to working with industry and local communities to build the resilience of the Reef, help reduce pressures on the inshore environment and ensure a viable long-term commercial fishing industry,” Dr Reichelt said.

Approximately only seven per cent of the Marine Park is trawled more than once per year (general use zones) and all trawl vessels are monitored via a satellite-based vessel monitoring system.

“Mr Mogensen’s actions and attitude towards sustainable fishing and the need to fish for the future lead the way for others in the trawl industry,” Dr Reichelt said.

Among his Reef-friendly practices are crew inductions including species identification, information on marine park rules and zones and daily briefings on green zone locations and fishing plans. Fishing is also spread to reduce risk of overfishing. His use of larger than standard turtle excluders and two types of appropriately rigged bycatch reduction devices coupled with more frequent net retrieval, improves catch quality, reduces bycatch and improves bycatch release conditions.

Mr Morgensen joins 17 other fishing operations across the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park currently recognised under the Reef Guardian programme.

The inclusion of a trawl fisher means the full suite of major commercial fisheries operating in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are represented in the programme including: Reef line fishery; marine aquarium fish and coral collection; large mesh gill net fishery; and trawl.

Participants set robust voluntary protocols for their operations, develop innovative practices to minimise impacts on the environment and actively share knowledge with other fishers and their communities. Participants also report back to the GBRMPA on the health of the marine environment including coral damage, and sightings of rare or unusual species.

Reef Guardian fishers are part of a broader Reef Guardian programme involving over 17 councils, 310 schools, and 25 farmers and graziers taking part in environmental initiatives that benefit the Reef.

Participating fishers publicly show their commitment to the Reef by displaying a Reef Guardian sign on their boats.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846