Environmental Policy News

Queensland to Implement Net Free Fishing Zones

The Queensland, Australia government is implementing three net-free zones which come into effect on 1 November 2015. The three zones -near Cairns, north of Mackay and on the Capricorn Coast - cover a combined area of about 1400 square kilometers.

A structured buyback scheme for commercial fishing boat license holders who are directly affected by the net-free zones will be established. Commercial fishers have a legal obligation to report information about their fishing activities in a compulsory daily logbook. All net fishers must contribute data about their day's catch, the location fished and the time spent fishing. The data provided is used to assess and monitor the status of individual species and fisheries in Queensland.

“This is a 1400 square kilometer boost in protection for snub fin dolphins, dugong and turtles which are all listed as either vulnerable or endangered,” said World Wildlife Federation-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath. “They will be safe in these zones from the danger of being caught in commercial nets and held underwater until they drown – a truly horrific death.”

Australian Marine Conservation Society Director Darren Kindleysides said the net free zones fulfill a promise to UNESCO in the Reef 2050 Plan.

“Both side of politics have hailed the Reef 2050 plan as the major reason the Great Barrier Reef avoided an ‘in danger’ listing at this year’s World Heritage Committee meeting.

“The World Heritage Committee decision calls on Australia to rigorously implement all of its commitments. The Committee was quite specific that Australia must follow through on all promises – not just some - which is why we’re so pleased to see this outcome. Greater protection for turtles, dugong and snub fins is extremely important. Healthy populations of these iconic marine creatures are important for a healthier Reef ecosystem and we must help them recover,” he said.

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