NEW fisheries laws passed by the Queensland Government mean Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers will have increased powers to crack down on black market fishers.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said making sure fishers followed the rules was critical to maintaining fish stocks. “Our reforms are a crucial step in building a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren and protecting jobs in our commercial and recreational fishing industries,” Mr Furner said. “We have more compliance officers on the beat and we’ve made sure they have the powers they need to come down hard on black marketers.”
Mr Furner said black market operators damaged the fishing lifestyle for the vast majority who did the right thing and followed the rules. “There is no excuse for black market fishing and we won’t stand for it,” Mr Furner said. “The opposition wanted to give black market operators a five-day get-out-of-jail-free card but we stood firm to give QBFP officers the powers they need to get tough.”
Mr Furner said the Sunshine Coast was not immune to black marketers attempting to plunder the public fishing resource for their own illegal gain.
“Just a couple of years ago two recreational fishers copped an $8000 fine after being caught on Teewah Beach at Noosa with more than 3500 pipis,” Mr Furner said. “The possession limit for pipis in Queensland is 50 per person, so the two fishers had in their possession 3491 more pipis than is legally permissible.”
Mr Furner said, however, the QBFP was reporting increased compliance by fishers following operations in the Noosa district targeting pipi possession limits. “To date in the current financial year, QBFP Noosa officers have undertaken eight patrols to the Teewah Beach area either as part of scheduled patrol operations or in response to complaints,” Mr Furner said. “During these patrols, officers inspected 74 people and found all complied with possession limits for molluscs. QBFP will continue patrols in the area in response to increasing calls from the community to protect fisheries resources and support for our compliance monitoring activities through the Fishwatch reporting service.
“Possession limits exist to conserve and enhance the community’s fisheries resources and fish habitats to promote ecological sustainability. Taking large amounts of fisheries resources such as pipis is often an indication of black market supply, which threatens the sustainability of the community’s fisheries resources.”
For more information on Queensland fishing rules, visit fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free Qld Fishing app from Apple and Google app stores.
If you suspect illegal fishing, report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.