The community of central Queensland town Seaforth is being urged to report people fishing illegally in their no-take green zones of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, as part of a multi-partner compliance and education campaign launched today.
Seaforth has the largest non-compliance rate in the marine park, becoming the first no-take green zone to record 100 poaching offences.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management and compliance assistant director Andrew Simpson said the community was encouraged to get on board to help protect their patch.
“The area off Seaforth is the top location in the Marine Park for illegal recreational fishing, notching up a record 100 poaching offences in the no-take zone since 2010,” Mr Simpson said.
“Reporting suspected illegal activity on the Reef is simple and can be done anonymously by calling our free, 24-hour hotline number on 1800 380 048 or, if preferred, you can report online.
“We just need a few simple details like vessel identity, what they were doing, when and where, even if it’s the nearest landmark.
“The more details you can provide the better and — if possible and practical — photos can be supplied. All reports are taken seriously and will be investigated.”
Following increased pressures on the Reef, the Authority is cracking down on illegal fishing hotspots with targeted aerial and vessel patrols planned for day and night-time to catch poachers in the act.
Recreational fishing in no-take green zones is the most common offence in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, with reported offences increasing since 2012. Mr Simpson said figures revealed most offenders were local to areas where the poaching occurred.
“While we know most recreational fishers understand and follow the zoning rules, there are some who believe occasionally fishing in a green zone is harmless; however nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“Anytime someone fishes illegally — whether it’s for commercial or recreational purposes — it undermines the benefits of our zoning arrangements and puts the health of the Reef in jeopardy. As such, the Authority has a no-tolerance approach for those who are caught doing the wrong thing.
“It’s so important for Marine Park users to protect their patch of the Reef and it’s really simple: Follow the zoning rules and if you see anyone doing the wrong thing, report it.”
If you fish in a green zone, you risk receiving a $2100 fine and possible conviction.
People can report suspected illegal fishing activity anonymously via the Authority’s 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or online at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident