Great Barrier Reef visitors: report poaching and protect the Reef

There’s renewed calls for all visitors to the Great Barrier Reef to report suspected illegal activity following new global research revealing nearly one third of fishers surveyed from the Great Barrier Reef witnessed poaching but most did nothing about it.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Field Management Compliance Unit assistant director Andrew Simpson said illegal fishing impacted on an ecosystem already under pressure.

“Illegal fishing has serious ecological consequences, not just by depleting fish stocks for the future, but also through anchor impacts and fishing tackle damaging coral tissue, which contributes to coral disease and affects fish habitat and the Reef’s ability to recover,” he said.

“We know most fishers follow the rules and do their bit to help protect the Reef, but there’s a percentage who continue to poach and threaten our global icon, and the ability of honest fishers to continue doing what they love.

“This research, led by Brock Bergseth from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, shows how important it is for all fishers to play a role in surveillance and reporting and for the Marine Park Authority to support them to do that.”

Marine parks users can report suspected illegal activity via free 24-hour-hotline 1800 380 048 or online at

Mr Simpson said it was important to know that reports can be made anonymously and all reports are taken seriously.

“Sometimes reports will lead to direct action, like fines of $2100, but on other occasions we are able to use the intelligence to inform surveillance planning and future compliance blitzes,” he said.

“Reporting is never a waste of time and it’s something we can all do to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.”

Things to include when reporting:

  • location (name of reef and — if possible — approx distance and bearing from your GPS position)
  • vessel identity of suspected offender (name and registration number)
  • activity description — what you think they were doing
  • photos if possible, but not necessary.