A great year of Net Free Areas ahead
  |  First Published: February 2016

This should be a very big year for Queensland recreational fishers. Hopefully some recent changes should be the first pushes to improve our recreational fisheries.

Net Free Areas

We will have all year to assess the benefits of the Net Free Areas in Cairns, Mackay and Keppel. It will be an opportunity to further determine what monitoring and assessment regimes are required to monitor these and future Net Free Areas.

Discussions are also due to commence on how to move forward with the Net Free Area in Moreton Bay. This is bound to be a long and lively discussion. As was evident in the robust discussions prior to the declarations of our first three Net Free Areas, most sectors of the community and government recognize the social and economic benefits of net free areas. The processes towards achieving the declaration and the legislative and financial steps leading to that end, however will cause the most dissent.

It is important that we commence this New Year with a fresh enthusiasm for elevating Moreton Bay into a world-class urban fishery.


While the Geelong Star is currently fishing south of our borders, there has been an application for a similar size vessel to fish in the Coral Sea off the Queensland coast. We need to maintain pressure against any large-scale industrial fishing in Australian waters.

International fisheries that have been fished in this manner have failed disastrously. The product being harvested is not even high quality product for the domestic market. It seems to be an exorbitant environmental risk to multiple fisheries for very small economic returns with significant historic overseas failures.

The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the peak national body representing Australia’s recreational fishing community has expressed disappointment and concern that the Geelong Star operators have not heeded advice from ARFF or honoured undertakings made at a meeting with the Government, Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), ARFF and the vessel operators before Christmas.

This follows reports that the Geelong Star has been fishing the popular and iconic recreational fishing grounds off Bermagui on the South Coast of NSW in recent days after ARFF advised them not to fish these areas.

A press release from Assistant Minister for Fisheries, Anne Ruston following the meeting stated the following.

“In addition, Seafish Tasmania also agreed that the Geelong Star voluntarily agreed to avoid fishing near major game fishing tournaments.

“The operators of the Geelong Star assured the meeting that best endeavours will be made to minimise interactions between the vessel and recreational fishers.”

Mr Allan Hansard, Managing Director of ARFF said they are disappointed that the Geelong Star operators have not honoured these undertakings as the vessel has been reported fishing off Bermagui when the Bermagui game fishing tournament starts on 25 January.

“In addition, we are still in the Christmas, New Year holiday period where thousands of families converge on the south coast of NSW to go fishing. The fishing operations of the vessel were reported to us by recreational fishers in the area, so it is hard to see how the vessel owners are using their ‘best endeavours’ to minimise interactions with recreational fishers,” he said. “These recent actions have put a cloud over future talks about the operations of the Geelong Star scheduled for early February. Unfortunately, their actions have also brought into question the value of such talks.”

Minister Ruston’s press release can be found at: http://assistant.agricultureminister.gov.au/Pages/Media-Releases/progress-on-geelong-star-negotiations.aspx

Key facts about Net Free Areas

No impact on trawl fishery.

Tunnel netting will continue in Moreton Bay.

Commercial line netting will continue in Moreton Bay.

MBMP is 3400 square kilometres, we are asking for 115 square kilometres or 3%.

Mostly it is 400m from the shoreline.

405,000 recreational fishers in the Moreton Bay Catchment.

We are NOT asking for access to existing green zones in this proposal.

Fish caught in the haven area is not supplying the local markets.

3% of what is caught in MBMP is only $207,000.

Last year $1.9 million RUF in Moreton Bay Catchment.

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