Black Jewfish were closed to commercial and recreational fishing across the state on March 3rd. PICTURE: Ashley Pillhofer
Black Jewfish were closed to commercial and recreational fishing across the state on March 3rd. PICTURE: Ashley Pillhofer

Shock footage shows fishers forced to dump catch

SHOCKING footage showing commercial fishers dumping dead jewfish off the back of boats has been released.

The lucrative species was closed to commercial and recreational fishing across the state on March 3 after the annual 20-tonne catch limit was reached.

Queensland Fisheries capped catches in April 2018 after demand for jewfish bladders in Asia caused the commercial catch to soar.

Despite the species being off limits until January 2021, the fish is commonly caught as incidental bycatch by fishers targeting other species.

Fishers, both commercial and recreational, are required to throw back incidental catches, even if the fish are already dead.

Queensland Fisheries classified black jewfish as “overfished” but commercial fishermen caught so many of the species this year that they reached the 20-tonne figure in the first week of March. Now any incidental catches of black jewfish – both commercial and recreational – are to be thrown back. Picture: Supplied
Queensland Fisheries classified black jewfish as “overfished” but commercial fishermen caught so many of the species this year that they reached the 20-tonne figure in the first week of March. Now any incidental catches of black jewfish – both commercial and recreational – are to be thrown back. Picture: Supplied

Footage showing commercial fishers throwing black jewfish, caught incidentally, back into the water sparked LNP Senator Susan McDonald to slam the Queensland Government's approach to commercial fisheries management.

"Commercial fishers have been sharing photos and videos of black jewfish caught in nets, which have to be thrown back even though they are dead," Ms McDonald said.

"They complain that not only are perfectly good table fish being wasted, but that dumping them back in the sea attracts sharks and crocodiles, which can wreak havoc on nets and endanger people.

"The biggest travesty is that any black jewfish caught from now until next year must be thrown back as shark food rather than sold to feed families."

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said he made no apologies for protecting future fishing jobs.

"We are building a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren," Mr Furner said.

"We don't want to have a situation like in South Australia where a three-year no-take order on snapper had to be imposed to allow stocks to recover."

Mr Furner said the 20-tonne limit had been imposed on the advice of fisheries scientists and a stakeholder-based fishery working group, and endorsed by the independent Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel.

Any commercial or recreational fisher found to be in possession of black jewfish will be in breach of the Fisheries Act and could face a maximum fine of $133,450.

Additionally, any fisher found to be in possession of commercial quantity of black jewfish with the intention of black marketing the fish may be subject to a maximum fine of $400,350 or three years imprisonment.