Marine aquarium fish fishery

Fishery area

The marine aquarium fish fishery operates along the Queensland east coast from the tip of Cape York south to the Queensland – New South Wales border. Refer to fisheries legislation for the exact boundaries of fishery areas.

The fishery operates under the fishery symbol A1 or A2.

Target species

There are more than 1,500 marine fish species that could be harvested from Queensland waters for private or public aquarium displays. While some species have a broad distribution, others are endemic to Queensland and nearby waters and are in demand from export markets.

The fish families important to the aquarium trade include:

  • damselfish (family Pomacentridae)
  • butterflyfish and bannerfish (family Chaetodontidae)
  • angelfish (family Pomacanthidae)
  • wrasses (family Labridae)
  • surgeonfish (family Acanthuridae)
  • gobies (family Gobiidae).

Fishing gear

Aquarium fish are commercially harvested by hand using:

  • underwater breathing apparatus (hookah or scuba)
  • herding devices
  • fishing lines (using a single barbless hook only)
  • cast nets
  • scoop nets
  • small mesh nets.

Refer to fisheries legislation for the types and specifications of gear allowed.

A small number of collectors target much larger fish to supply public aquariums. Those operators need to obtain a general fisheries permit to use certain equipment or if they intend to operate outside prescribed size limits and/or species restrictions.

Management arrangements

  • The fishery is managed under the marine aquarium fish harvest strategy.
  • Fish can only be sold for use as aquarium fish or broodstock. Fish must not be taken for human consumption.
  • The fishery has limited entry:
    • 45 licences with A1 symbol
    • 4 licences with A2 symbol.
  • In order to protect stocks in the specific areas from localised depletion, the following high-use regions are defined as special management areas with limited access:
    • Cairns area (16 licences)
    • Whitsundays area (3 licences)
    • Keppel area (8 licences)
    • Sunshine Coast area (8 licences)
    • Moreton Bay area (11 licences).
  • Fishers must have a primary commercial fishing licence and an A1 symbol to operate in the fishery.
  • The person in charge of an operation must hold a commercial fisher licence to operate under a primary commercial fishing licence.
  • A1 and D (coral) symbols can be fished together on the same fishing trip provided that both symbols are on the same primary commercial fishing licence.
  • Up to 3&nbps;divers can operate under a licence at any one time.
  • Fishers can use 1 primary boat plus 1 other boat (tender boat).
  • Size limits exist for certain species.
  • Seasonal closures apply to certain species of coral reef finfish in certain waters north of latitude 24°50'S. Two annual, 5-day closures apply around the new moon periods in October and November of each year.

Reporting and monitoring

Commercial fishers must comply with a number of reporting requirements.

In summary, fishers must:

Commercial fishers must also have vessel tracking on their boats to monitor compliance with regulations.

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