While Green Island is a top hotspot for visitors, it’s also attracting some unwanted attention, with the rate of illegal recreational fishing from nearby no-take green zones being one of the highest in the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In response, surveillance efforts will dramatically increase over the Christmas holidays, but the Marine Park Authority is also calling on the Cairns community to play a part in protecting their patch.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority assistant director Chris Cochrane said, with Green Island situated just 27 kilometres east of Cairns, it is the first landmark boaties see when they leave the channel.
“Green Island is certainly very popular and accessible, but it is important for fishers to be aware that the green zone doesn’t just surround the waters near the island, but extends a considerable distance to include other reefs and shoals,” Mr Cochrane said.
“Analysis of the problem at Green Island shows most illegal recreational fishing is undertaken by people local to the Cairns area and 75 per cent of offenders live less than 10 kilometres from a local boat ramp; so accessibility and visibility are key factors.”
However, considering the high volume of recreational fishers in the area, Mr Cochrane said many people were doing the right thing and they were the key to helping to protect this very special and popular patch of the World Heritage Area.
“We’d like to thank all marine parks’ users who make sure they know their zones and what’s allowed before getting to the boat ramp. This is easy to do by getting a free zoning map from a local bait and tackle shop or Visitor Information Centre, or downloading the free Eye on the Reef zoning app,” Mr Cochrane said.
“We are also asking people — from fishers to local tourism operators — to help us by reporting any suspected illegal activity they see to the free 24-hour hotline 1800 380 048 or www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident. All reports are investigated and are important for helping us to protect the Reef, especially with illegal fishing posing a major threat.
“As such, those caught fishing in a no-take green zone can expect a $2100 fine.”
Help to spread the word and protect the Reef by downloading the Marine Park Authority’s ‘champions pack’ at http://bit.ly/2OfuTkP. Tag @gbrmarinepark and use the hashtag #ZoningRules.
The Eye on the Reef app can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store.
Notes to journalists:
File footage: If using your existing 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: The World Heritage Area includes two marine parks — the State’s and the Commonwealth’s — but they are jointly managed and share complementary rules. That’s why ‘marine parks’ is used. There are eight different types of zones, 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 and collecting is prohibited.