Sea cucumber fishery
The commercial sea cucumber (beche-de-mer) fishery area consists of all tidal waters east of longitude 142°31'49"E between latitude 10°41'S and latitude 26°S (parallel to the southern limit of Tin Can Bay). In practice, however, waters south of the Great Barrier Reef are rarely fished.
The fishery operates under the fishery symbol B1.
The major commercially harvested sea cucumber species include:
- black teatfish (Holothuria whitmaei)
- white teatfish (Holothuria fuscogilva)
- burrowing blackfish (Actinopyga spinea)
- various other sea cucumber species.
Sea cucumbers are harvested mainly by divers breathing surface-supplied air from hookah equipment and, to a lesser extent, by free-diving from dinghies or by hand collection along reefs at low tide.
- The fishery is managed under the sea cucumber harvest strategy.
- The commercial beche-de-mer fishery is a limited entry fishery:
- 18 B1 licences
- To operate in the fishery, a fisher must have:
- a primary commercial fishing licence
- at least 1 B1 symbol
- unused entitlements of quota units for the hand-harvest individual transferable quota year for the relevant species.
- The person in charge of an operation must hold a commercial fisher licence to be able to operate under a primary commercial fishing licence.
- There is a total allowable commercial catch and individual transferrable quota units are allocated to each licence.
- Up to 6 people can operate under a licence at any one time.
- Fishers can use 1 primary boat plus up to 4 other boats (tender boats).
- The fishery imposes species-based catch limits
- Due to their potential vulnerability to depletion, black teatfish (Holothuria whitmaei) has a quota of zero on all licences.
- White teatfish catch is limited by condition of licence.
- Collecting sandfish is prohibited in Hervey Bay.
- Fisheries Queensland monitors other species in this fishery by performance measurement systems.
- Effort restrictions are applied through rotational zones that limit access (number of days) to each reef or group of reefs. This is a voluntary initiative developed by licence-holders and implemented via an industry memorandum of understanding.
Reporting and monitoring
Commercial fishers must comply with a number of reporting requirements.
In summary, fishers must:
- report trip/catch notices through the Qld eFisher commercial fishing app or the Automated Integrated Voice Response system
- complete compulsory daily logbooks – catch and effort plus threatened, endangered and protected animals
- keep sale dockets for all wholesale sales for 5 years, including to businesses involved in the processing and storage of fisheries resources.
Commercial fishers must also have vessel tracking on their boats to monitor compliance with regulations.