Fishers want heavier penalties and stronger compliance powers to tackle black marketing.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said respondents to a public survey expressed overwhelming support for proposed changes to modernise the Fisheries Act 1994.
“We received more than 230 responses during public consultation, with more than 90 per cent of respondents agreeing that the enforcement powers of fisheries inspectors and penalties to address serious fisheries offences such as black marketing should be strengthened,” he said.
“There is evidence that illegal fishing operations are becoming more sophisticated and organised, particularly in high-value fisheries such as mud crab, shark fin, coral trout, Spanish mackerel and tropical rock lobster.
“Blackmarketing has the potential to undermine the viability of commercial fishing, impact on legitimate seafood businesses and lead to unsustainable fishing practices.”
Minister Furner said survey respondents also supported other proposed amendments to the Act to modernise the objectives and deliver more responsive decision making.
“More than 80 per cent of respondents agreed that the objective of the Fisheries Act should be modernised and the interests of key stakeholder groups be recognised,” he said.
“Additionally, more than 55 per cent of respondents agreed that the roles of the Minister responsible for fisheries and the chief executive in managing Queensland’s fisheries be clarified, and that more responsive decision-making through the use of harvest strategies be allowed for.
“More than 84 per cent of respondents agreed that a reduction in the complexity and removal of redundant provisions were required.
“Some people expressed concern that possession limits might change. It’s important to understand that the proposal is only for Fisheries Queensland to be able to adjust possession limits if it is outlined in a pre-agreed harvest strategy that has been approved following public consultation.
Mr Furner said the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994 were needed to provide the legislative foundations to support the implementation of the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to protecting the State’s valuable fisheries resources and delivering a world-class fisheries management system through the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-27,” he said.
“Feedback received from recreational and commercial fishers will play an integral role in updating the Act to meet community expectations for fishing laws which are contemporary, practical and simple to understand.
“The results of consultation will be considered when drafting the Bill, which will be put to Parliament later in the year.”
A detailed report on the results of this consultation is available at www.daf.qld.gov.au/sustainablefisheriesstrategy
For more information, visit www.daf.qld.gov.au or phone 13 25 23.