A recreational fisher who was caught illegally fishing in a no-take area off Orpheus Island opted to have the matter heard in court — only to receive a higher penalty from the Townsville Magistrate Court.
The fisher received an original $2100 fine for trolling through the no-take green zone north of Townsville last year, with the court increasing the fine up to $2500 and recording a conviction.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority compliance and field operations assistant director Ben Kettle said it was a timely reminder for fishers to know the zoning rules and how to use a GPS.
“Marine parks visitors need to understand where they are going and what’s allowed before getting to the boat ramp, and ensure they have access to zoning information on-board,” he said.
“There are a variety of zoning tools available including GPS, free zoning maps and the free Eye on the Reef app — so not knowing is no excuse.
“In this case, the offender had a GPS unit, but didn’t know how to use it. This is a timely reminder to prepare ahead of going out on the water.”
With increased pressures on the Reef, the Authority and its partners are running more aerial and vessel patrols day and night to catch poachers in the act.
“We’re regularly patrolling the Reef and are also running regular compliance and education campaigns so everyone knows about the rules — if you fish in a green zone you will get caught and can expect a $2100 fine, or to appear in court,” Mr Kettle said.
“It’s so important for marine parks users to protect their patch of the Reef: follow the zoning rules and, if you see anyone doing the wrong thing, report it.”
The community can report suspected illegal fishing activity anonymously via the Authority’s free 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or online at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident.
Every report is taken seriously and contributes to protecting the Reef.
Contact: (07) 4750 0846 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to journalists:
File footage: If using file footage for overlay, please do not include recreational or commercial vessels — these could be incorrectly interpreted as the subject of this media release.
Zoning explainer: There are eight different types of zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, each with different rules for what is and isn’t allowed. Green zones are marine national parks — they are no-take zones, so all fishing is prohibited.