Zero tolerance for flouting marine park rules

Recreational fishers who continually ignore Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning rules can expect to be caught and face hefty fines.

An Innisfail fisherman recorded the latest conviction in a series of no-take marine national park zone offences in waters off the central and north Queensland coast.

A helicopter patrol spotted the vessel with three men on board fishing in a no-take green zone.

The master of the vessel received an infringement notice which he failed to pay. The matter was referred to court where the offender was convicted and fined $2500.

The Marine Park Authority’s field management and compliance assistant director Ben Kettle said with zoning information readily available there was no excuse for poaching in green zones.

“Know where you’re going and what activities you’re allowed to do before you head out on the water by checking the free zoning maps and your GPS, or risk a $2100 fine,” Mr Kettle said.

“Most people do the right thing, but there’s a percentage who continue to break the rules. Fishing in green zones is not tolerated and if you flout the rules you’ll be fined.”

The Authority recently launched its ‘Protect Your Patch’ campaign in Seaforth, north of Mackay — the first Marine Park green zone to record 100 poaching incidents.

With heightened air and water vessel patrols in the area throughout November, Mr Kettle said it was as much about education as enforcing the rules.

“We’re asking the community to do their bit to help protect their patch and report poaching activity to the Authority by using our 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or at www.gbrmpa.gov.au,” Mr Kettle said.

“Don’t be complacent. Fishing in no-take green zones effects the health of the Reef so if you see someone doing the wrong thing, please do your bit and report it.”

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