DO YOUR BIT: GBRMPA field management assistant director Andrew Simpson and tourist operator Max Allen (right) with Coastguard and on-water services are working together to preserve the Great Barrier Reef and fish stocks.
DO YOUR BIT: GBRMPA field management assistant director Andrew Simpson and tourist operator Max Allen (right) with Coastguard and on-water services are working together to preserve the Great Barrier Reef and fish stocks.

Fisheries launch crackdown on green zone poachers

RESIDENTS and visitors were yesterday encouraged to help protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

The Protect Your Patch Capricorn Coast Campaign was launched at Rosslyn Bay by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and key on-water and community partners.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management assistant director Andrew Simpson is calling on the community to do its part to help Protect its Patch by being informed and educated to ensure the health of the reef and waters.

"The campaign is about ensuring everyone knows what they can and can't do in the various zones while also encouraging them to report incidents of misuse," Mr Simpson said.

"Most recreational fishers do the right thing, but unfortunately there's a percentage who think occasionally fishing in a green zone doesn't do any harm and this is not the case, even low levels of poaching can have significant impacts.

"More than half of the recreational fishers caught illegal fishing in green zones in the Capricorn Coast area are locals.

"There is no excuse, our approach to protecting the Reef means people need to know what's allowed on the water, as anyone caught fishing in a no-take green zone risks a $2100 fine.

"Everyone has a role to play in protecting the Reef and we encourage residents and visitors to the Cap Coast to report any suspected illegal activity they see."

With the tourist season ramping up, Mr Simpson also reminded yachties not to 'set and forget'.

"There are many yachties who sail around the spectacular Capricorn Coast region, and occasionally they set a troll line and forget, as they later sail into a green zone," he said.

"The authority continues to crack down on illegal fishing hotspots with targeted aerial and vessel patrols day and night, so if you do the wrong thing, you will get caught.

"A DNA study of coral trout in the Keppel's shows strong evidence that protected areas contribute significantly to replenishing populations of targeted fish species of reefs open to fishing.

"When someone fishes illegally they are stealing from everyone.

"By playing your part to protect the Reef you are helping keep the Capricorn Coast a special place for the community, visitors and future generations."

Freedom Fastcats spokesman Max Allen said the campaign is about taking ownership of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

"Maps and zone explanations are readily available and the new downloadable app Eye on the Reef shows you exactly where you are and what is permissible in that zone," Mr Allen said.

"There is no reason to be ignorant of the useability of our waters and doing the right thing by our reef and our waters ensures their protection into the future.

'We do a lot of tours and people are receptive to hearing about the benefits of the protected zones. For us, it is about education, we appreciate visitors to the area asking where they can fish and to what capacity.

"Research tells us the protected areas are producing more fish life which then spread out to the recreational fishing zones for everyone to enjoy."

Report suspected illegal fishing activity anonymously via the Authority's 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or online at gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident. Zoning maps available at gbrmpa.gov.au and marine parks zoning information is on our free Eye on the Reef app.