Recreational fishers caught poaching from no-take areas in the Great Barrier Reef will face higher penalties from this weekend, with fines increasing from $1800 to $2100.
The increase in the Commonwealth penalty units from tomorrow (July 1) supports the tough stance the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is taking to protect the Reef, adopting a no-tolerance approach to green zone poaching.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority director Richard Quincey said it was important Marine Park users knew the rules before heading out on the water.
“People who choose to fish in a no-take green zone could receive a $2100 fine or a prosecution,” Mr Quincey said.
“The effects of green zone poaching are cumulative — every fisher who takes fish from a green zone has an impact on the health of the Reef.
“We’re taking a no-tolerance approach to green zone poaching in light of the recent pressures on the Reef - it’s crucial we all do our bit to help protect the region.
“We’re also using education to help fishers understand the importance of green zones and how they help to replenish the areas open to fishing.”
Green zones make up about a third of the Marine Park and are designed to help protect and conserve the biodiversity of the ecosystem.
Research shows zoning — which came into effect in 2004 — is making a positive difference to biodiversity with more and bigger fish being found in no-take Marine National Park zones, producing a spill-over effect of fish to areas of the Marine Park open to fishing.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority coordinates vessel patrols with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Queensland Boating and Fisheries, and the Queensland Water Police which target illegal recreational and commercial fishing. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Maritime Border Command conduct aerial surveillance of the Marine Park and drones are now being trialled in compliance operations.
Members of the public can do their bit to help protect the Reef by reporting suspected illegal fishing to 1800 380 048 (24 hours) or via an online incident report form.
Free zoning maps are available on our website or at bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, ship chandlers and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices.