Cairns commercial fisher recognised for sustainability

A Cairns-based commercial fisher is the latest addition to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Fishers program.

Coral harvester Caleb Cousland from GBR Aquatics is one of the growing core of environmentally-aware fishers who make their living on the Reef and encourage sustainable fishing practices.

Mr Cousland said being a Reef Guardian Fisher recognised his commitment to sustainable and best practices and showed his support for the Reef’s ongoing management, conservation and protection.

“Commercial fishing is my way of life and I’m grateful to be able to go to work and make a living doing what I am passionate about,” he said.

“I have always believed the aquarium harvest fishery has a role in giving back and contributing to the ongoing conservation and protection of the Reef, rather than simply taking for commercial purposes.”

Established in 2011, the Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Fishers now has 27 accredited fishers who establish and maintain the highest standards of compliance, staff training and fishing practices in Australian waters.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Assistant Director of Sustainable Fishing and Partnerships, Randall Owens said the Reef Guardian Fishers program recognised and encouraged responsible fishers implementing sustainable fishing practices on the Reef.

“Reef Guardian Fishers recognise the future of their fisheries relies on the health and resilience of the Reef. They use operational and innovative practices and procedures to go beyond what is required by State and Federal laws,” Mr Owens said.

“The program is now recognised nationally by organisations such as the Seafood Industry Association and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for identifying thought-leaders and role models within the fishing industry.”

Mr Cousland said the Reef Guardian Fishers program was a great initiative to keep the commercial fishing industry accountable to sustainable and best practices.

“I have seen the introduction of quota reporting, advancement in aquarium technology, development of the Queensland Coral Fishery Harvest Strategy and the Pro-vision Reef Stewardship Action Plan is now in place. Harvesters now have more knowledge of coral spawning and the need to allow for area regeneration,” he said.

“Reef Guardian Fishers program recognises these innovations, and encourages us to implement safe, sustainable and smart fishing technologies and practices in our businesses.”

More information:


  • Image one - Reef Guardian Fisher Caleb Cousland holding coral in water - image credit Caleb Cousland
  • Image two - Reef Guardian Fisher Caleb Cousland collecting coral beside a boat - image credit Caleb Cousland


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Media team: (07) 4750 0846 |