The Great Barrier Reef supports commercial, recreational, Indigenous and charter fishing, targeting a range of species including fish, sharks, crabs and prawns.
There are 10 major commercial fisheries in the Great Barrier Reef Region.
The main commercial sectors are the net, trawl, line and pot fisheries. Commercial fishing is limited entry and is spread across the Great Barrier Reef.
The commercial fishing industry of the Great Barrier Reef is important to both domestic and international markets.
For example, although exact figures are not known, a substantial proportion of the commercial live trout trade into Hong Kong comes from the Great Barrier Reef.
Recreational fishing is an open access fishery, taking an estimated six million fish in 2007 mainly focused in inshore areas.
Fishing is the main extractive use of the Great Barrier Reef. Management of fishing and its environmental impacts is shared between the Australian and Queensland Governments.
The Queensland Government manages them by input and output controls often as part of formal management plans.
The Great Barrier Reef’s values are frequently the driver of policy responses, although these values are not necessarily explicitly addressed.
Zoning plans set out the areas where different types of fishing can be undertaken consistent with the management objectives for each zone.
However zoning plans, although providing complementary arrangements, are not intended to manage fisheries effort or the size or type of fish taken.
The combined retained and non-retained catch for commercial, recreational, charter and Indigenous fisheries is estimated to be about 38,000 tonnes of the Great Barrier Reef's resources each year.
Of this amount, retained catch from fishing is more than 14,000 tonnes each year. The remainder of the catch is returned to the sea and the survival success of this non-retained catch is poorly understood.
Monitoring and stock assessments for a limited number of target species indicates populations of some species are under pressure, including grey mackerel, garfish, snapper and black teatfish (sea cucumber).
Herbivorous fish are not targeted in almost all commercial and recreational fishing on the Reef.
Most fishing techniques (for example line, net and pot) have little impact on habitats. However, trawling has the potential to cause habitat damage if not appropriately managed. Trawling is restricted to areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where it generally has minimal impact on the seabed.
Ecosystem effects and cumulative impacts of fishing are poorly understood. Scientific studies have shown that as well as affecting the abundance and characteristics of targeted predator species in open fishing zones, fishing may also affect their prey species.
Fishing may also affect ecosystem function indirectly. For example, outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish appear to be more likely in zones open to fishing.
If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.
The Great Barrier Reef is a hive of activity. If you're lucky enough to see a humpback whale from May to September, make sure you keep a safe distance.
We're delighted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park's World Heritage listing.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing plants, animals and habitats. There are a range of tourism experiences on offer.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this Great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL
(1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.