Trawl fishery regulations

The following regulations apply to Queensland's commercial trawl fisheries.

Read the fisheries legislation for detailed information.

Harvest strategies

The Queensland trawl fishery is managed under a number of harvest strategies:

  • commercial trawl fin fish (stout whiting) harvest strategy
  • northern trawl region harvest strategy
  • central trawl region harvest strategy
  • southern inshore trawl region harvest strategy
  • southern offshore trawl region harvest strategy
  • Moreton Bay trawl region harvest strategy.

Limits on operating time

Almost all the licences in the trawl fishery operate on an effort quota system. Each trawler is permitted to work a certain number of nights based on the quota it holds. Through this system, a trawler can increase its allocation by buying quota from another vessel without the effort in the fishery increasing.

The exception is the fin fish (stout whiting) trawl fishery, which is limited by a total catch quota.

Area closures

There are many areas throughout the fishery where trawling is prohibited or restricted. These areas are declared for a number of reasons, including habitat and nursery ground protection, maintenance of broodstock and bycatch reduction. In addition, there are a range of fisheries closures that have been introduced by the Department of Environment and Science and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to manage marine parks.

Gear and boat size restrictions

The size of boats in each fishery is restricted to regulate fishing effort.

Otter and beam trawl nets are regulated by total length and mesh size. These regulations manage the total amount of 'swept area' in the fishery and minimise the impact on non-permitted species. All otter trawlers are required to have a turtle excluder device and a bycatch reduction device installed in any net being used. Most beam trawlers are only required to have a bycatch reduction device installed.

Note: The use or possession of trawl spikes, ploughs, rippers and other similar devices that attach to trawl sleds, boards or beams are prohibited. These devices must not be used due to concerns about the impact they could have on the seafloor and the fishery.

East coast otter trawl fishery

  • A primary vessel can be up to 20m long for offshore management regions, and up to 14m long for Moreton Bay.
  • Maximum vessel size is 120 hull units and the associated effort unit conversion factor is a maximum of 93 effort units.
  • A range of other effort-based equipment controls are in place.

Fin fish (stout whiting) trawl fishery

  • Maximum total net length of 88m (combined head rope, bottom rope and all other ropes attached to the net).
  • Minimum mesh size is 38mm.
  • Permitted species may be taken only by using otter trawl or Danish seine gear that complies with fisheries regulations.
  • Otter trawl restrictions include:
    • maximum sweep length of 128m
    • maximum vessel length of 20m
    • compliant turtle excluder device must be on all otter trawl nets.
  • Danish seine restrictions include:
    • maximum haul rope length of 2500m
    • deployed nets must be marked with a floating buoy
    • maximum vessel length of 25m.

Catch limits

The small fin fish (stout whiting) trawl fishery, which has only 5 operators, is managed through a total allowable catch (TAC). There is a quota set on the amount of product that can be taken each year. The figure is determined by means of an annual stock assessment that establishes how much fishing the population can sustain.

For more information, download the Queensland Finfish Trawl Fishery statement of management arrangements (PDF, 470KB).

Monitoring and reporting

Commercial trawl 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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