Best practice net fishing
From 1 September 2021, there are new rules and reporting requirements for Queensland commercial fisheries.
Commercial net fishers are working with the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to implement 'best practice' netting regionally.
Benefits of best practice net fishing
The key benefits of a best practice process are:
- minimising impacts on species of conservation interest
- lowering the total level of bycatch
- increasing economic efficiency
- meeting community expectations
- maintaining locally caught produce for markets.
Management arrangements for net fishing
Commercial net fishing in Queensland is managed through controls such as restricted access (limited licence numbers), gear restrictions (net length and use), area, time and seasonal closures, and some species quota.
Most of Queensland's commercial net fisheries operate along the Queensland east coast, so fishing rules are designed to suit the whole area - not specific regions. In cases where there are specific regional rules (e.g. dugong protection areas), the same gear restrictions usually still apply across these zones.
Current net fishing practices
Net fishers have developed practices and methods to fish in their local area in an environmentally friendly, economically beneficial and socially conscious way. This has led to good relationships between net fishers and their local community.
However, non-local fishers don't always follow these voluntary practices. While such operations are legal, they can inadvertently harm local marine life.
To address this issue, some commercial fishers have developed codes of conduct for their region. However, these codes have had limited success, as they are not enforceable and not all fishers abide by them.
Commercial fishers are therefore working with the Queensland and Australian Government to develop 'best practice netting rules' that are enforceable.
Areas for best practice net fishing
The following areas have been identified for establishing best practice netting:
- tunnel netting in Moreton Bay
- inshore netting in the Burdekin region.
These areas were chosen because substantial work towards best practice net fishing is already underway.