Residents and tourists in the Whitsundays are being encouraged to report people fishing illegally in no-take green zones of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife and key on-water and community partners launched the Protect Your Patch Whitsunday campaign at Airlie Beach today to target poaching from no-take green zones, which threatens the health of the Reef.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management assistant director Ben Kettle is calling on the community to do their part to help protect their patch.
“Most recreational fishers do the right thing, but there’s a percentage who think occasionally poaching doesn’t do any harm,” Mr Kettle said.
“Locals may be surprised to hear that half of the recreational fishers caught illegal fishing in green zones in the Whitsundays live in Airlie Beach.
“We are encouraging both Whitsundays residents and visitors to make sure they know their zones before they go out on the water and — if they see suspected illegal activity — to report it, because every act of illegal activity threatens the Reef and its chance of recovery.
“Reporting poaching in your patch is simple, it 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 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.”
Those caught fishing in a no-take green zone risk a $2100 fine and possible conviction.
“The Authority continues to crack down on illegal fishing hotspots with targeted aerial and vessel patrols day and night — so if you do the wrong thing, you will get caught,” Mr Kettle said.
“When someone fishes illegally it puts the health of the Great Barrier Reef at risk, at a time when the Reef in the Whitsundays is under increasing pressure post cyclone Debbie and other impacts.
“By playing your part you are helping to keep the Whitsundays a special place for the community and visitors.”
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
Zoning maps are available at www.gbrmpa.gov.au and Marine Park zoning information is on our Eye on the Reef free app.