Reef fishing to continue over Christmas holidays

19 June 2009

Spawning closures for coral reef fin fish have been overhauled with fewer closures for shorter periods and no more December closures.

There will now be two 5-day closures a year instead of three 9-day closures.

Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Regional and Rural Queensland Tim Mulherin today announced new dates covering the next five years.


The closure dates are:
• 15 October to 19 October 2009; and 14 November to 18 November 2009,
• 5 October to 9 October 2010; and 3 November to 7 November 2010,
• 24 October to 28 October 2011; and 22 November to 26 November 2011,
• 12 October to 16 October 2012; and 11 November to 15 November 2012, and
• 2 October to 6 October 2013; and 31 October to 4 November 2013

Mr Mulherin said: “This new regime gives everyone certainty and allows for long term planning.

“Recreational anglers will be pleased because it means there will be no closures over the Christmas holidays while previously there have been December bans.

“It’s also great news for commercial fishers and charter boat operators who have been in favour of changes for some time now because of economic impacts.

“Importantly, fishing under these changes will still be sustainable.

“Coral trout and other coral reef fin fish will still get some breathing space when they’re spawning and are
easier targets for concentrated fishing.

“October and November have been found to be months of high effectiveness for closures to protect coral reef fin fish.

“The new regime follows a comprehensive review, which included recommendations from the Reef Management Advisory Committee and an expert-based risk assessment conducted in May 2009.

“For the past five years there have been coral reef fin fish spawning closures in Queensland in October, November and December that have meant fish were off limits during nine-day periods during these months.

“The December closure was removed in 2008 based on an independent scientific review that indicated removing the December closure would not impact on the sustainability of fish stocks,” Mr Mulherin said.

“By reducing the length and number of closures we will significantly minimise the social and economic costs for fishery users, including lost income from charter operators.

“An exemption is provided to allow eligible offshore charter operators to apply for a General Fisheries Permit to operate during the closure periods.

“An additional exemption will allow commercial operators to be in possession of coral reef fin fish until 0600 hours on the first day of each closure period.

“An eastern boundary to the closed waters has also been established to formally recognise that the closures do not apply to fishers in the Coral Sea.

“These changes seek to minimise the economic impacts on the commercial and charter fishing sectors, while still protecting the sustainability of our coral reef fin fish,” Mr Mulherin said.

Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries Resource Manager Brigid Kerrigan said the closures will apply to waters on Queensland’s east coast between Cape York and just north of Waddy Point on Fraser Island, extending to the eastern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The closure dates are based on the new moon phases, which is when coral trout and many other reef species aggregate to spawn, and are therefore more susceptible to fishing at those times,” Dr Kerrigan said.

“The closures change depending on the new moon phases so it is important that people who fish for coral reef fin fish keep up to date with the latest closure dates.

“Anglers are reminded that the closures only apply to those who are fishing for coral reef fin fish, which includes coral trout, cods and gropers, emperors, parrotfish, sweetlips, tropical snappers and sea perches.”

The General Fisheries Permit application and information on coral reef fin fish and Queensland's fishing regulations can be found on the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries website or by calling 13 25 23.

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