Ban targets black market fishers

THE State Government has taken a heavy hand toward black market fishers who have pillaged Moreton Bay's shellfish stocks recently.

The State Government has introduced a Moreton Bay-wide ban on collection of shellfish to target black market fishers.
The State Government has introduced a Moreton Bay-wide ban on collection of shellfish to target black market fishers.

Minister for Fisheries Mark Furner today banned the collection of gastropod and bivalve molluscs, including mud arks, mud whelks and cockles from Bribie Island to Wynnum.

"The closure applies within the northern, eastern and southern boundaries of the Moreton Bay Marine Park including the existing foreshore closures at Wynnum, Nudgee Beach, Bramble Bay and Deception Bay," Mr Furner said.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol District Manager Brett Depper (left). PICTURE: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol District Manager Brett Depper (left). PICTURE: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

"Fisheries Queensland made considerable effort over the last twelve months to educate the community about the limits in place to protect molluscs, however there was still a serious level of noncompliance.

"Gastropods and bivalve mollusc species are highly susceptible to depletion because they remain in one place and can be easily accessed in fishing grounds close to urban centres."

It comes after Sandstone Point residents and State LNP MP for Pumicestone Simone Wilson campaigned for a total ban in November 2018 following a spike in offences.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries issued 74 infringement notices and fines of $19,386 for unlawful collecting of molluscs near Sandstone Point alone last year - 50 of those infringements and $14,094 of fines came after July 1.

The State Government then went through a three-month public consultation period to come to this conclusion.

Major General (retired) David Ferguson is fed up of over collecting of shellfish at Sandstone Point.
Major General (retired) David Ferguson is fed up of over collecting of shellfish at Sandstone Point.

Signage is being installed around Moreton Bay and the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol will undertake compliance checks over the coming months.

Visit fisheries.qld.gov.au or phone 13 25 23 for more information.

The Queensland Government will also put statewide limits on jewfish for commercial and non commercial fishers.

Mr Furner said this was in response to feedback from the community concerned about overfishing of these species.

"We've seen a significant increase in black jewfish catch over the last 12-18 months and there is a risk of black-marketing due to the extremely high market prices for their swim bladders," he said.

"Black jewfish are vulnerable to overfishing and stock collapses have been previously seen in Australia and overseas.

"Urgent management action is needed to protect this resource and its long-term economic viability."

The following new rules have been introduced:

a commercial catch limit of 20 tonnes per year on the east coast and 6 tonnes per year in the Gulf of Carpentaria;

a reduction in the recreational in-possession limit from 2 to 1; and

a requirement for black jewfish to be in whole form only on a boat in order to prevent processing of the fish at sea to remove the valuable swim bladders.



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