25 Feb 2015


This week’s two year ban on a commercial fisher by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority follows a Queensland Government report that included alarming concerns about illegal fishing on the Reef.

WWF-Australia said the report highlights the need for improved monitoring of illegal fishing in the Reef’s green zones.

The first stock assessment ever conducted of coral trout on the Reef was quietly loaded onto a Queensland Government website in December 2014 and includes this statement:

"Commercial fishers believe overwhelmingly that large amounts of fishing take place inside green zones. One fisher put the rate of noncompliance at about 80% of commercial fishers, and thought that between 20% and 50% of the entire commercial catch on the GBR came from green zones. Another comment was that the courts didn’t impose effective penalties. A fisher may take a catch of $80,000 in a green zone, and pay fines of only $20,000."

Fisheries Queensland’s own stock assessment for coral trout assumes around 10% of all coral trout landed from the Reef are taken from green zones.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014 states “Illegal fishing continues to be a very high risk to the Reef.”

“When commercial fishers and the government believe green zones are being plundered we must be concerned,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath.

“How can the Reef and fish stocks recover if green zones are being raided?"

“GBRMPA has more than 344,000 km2 to police and yet its budget has been slashed by more than 10%."

“The Federal Government must strengthen GBRMPA and boost its compliance budget so it can crack down on illegal fishing."

“This would enable satellite tracking of vessels fishing for coral trout as a cost effective way to monitor green zones and help turn around the decline of the Reef."

“Our message is: don’t let the illegal fishers be the ones that got away,” Mr Heath said.

WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571