Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) compliance officers will be out in full force over the Easter break as patrols across the Marine Park ramp up to tackle illegal fishing and camping.
GBRMPA director of field management Richard Quincey said holidays are a busy time of year for campers and fishers. For this reason, GBRMPA and partner agencies would be boosting patrols for illegal recreational fishing and illegal camping.
“Over Easter we’re targeting illegal recreational fishing in no-take green zones, especially in high risk areas, including shoals and shipwrecks at night,” Mr Quincey said.
“Green zones are critical for protecting and conserving the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. They help protect important fish breeding and nursery habitats such as seagrasses, mangroves, and shoals.
“They’re especially important now as current temperatures are putting additional stress on the ecosystem – doing whatever we can to minimise impacts is critical to allow the ecosystem to recover in the longer term.
“Our compliance patrols run day and night and if people are caught fishing in a green zone they can expect an $1800 infringement notice, or in some cases prosecution in court. Just this month a recreational fisher was prosecuted and convicted, receiving a $3500 fine.
“We treat any poaching in marine protected areas as a serious offence — compounded across the whole Marine Park illegal fishing can have significant ecological impacts.
“You need to know where you are at all times when out on the water. The best way to do this is to use a GPS to keep an eye on where you are, cross check your location with a zoning map and if you have a GPS chart plotter, know how zones are displayed on your unit.
"Some national park islands become busy over school holiday periods so it is also essential you secure your campsite by booking ahead and purchasing the appropriate permits."
If planning to camp at an island national park campground, remember to purchase a camping permit online at www.npsr.qld.gov.au, and follow national park camping rules by not lighting campfires, leaving your domestic animals at home and taking all of your rubbish home with you when you leave. To prevent the introduction of invasive species, it is also good practice to check your camping gear for seeds, insects and vermin before you go.
Marine Park users can report illegal fishing and other activities to 1800 341 211 (24 hour) or via an online incident report form at www.gbrmpa.gov.au.
Free zoning maps are available at bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, ship chandlers and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices. Alternatively free zoning maps are available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority by calling 1800 990 177 or downloaded from www.gbrmpa.gov.au.
The Queensland Fisheries app provides information on regulations and can be used to keep an eye on your location within zones. When using the app it is important to cross-check your location with a zoning map. It can be downloaded on iTunes or GooglePlay.