Future fishing

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Phasing out gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian and Queensland governments have announced they will commit more than $160 million to phase-out gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef by mid-2027 and transition to more sustainable fishing practices. Read the media statement on phasing out gillnet fishing.

Great Sandy Marine Park rezoning

The review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park has now been completed and the outcomes will be progressed into a final zoning plan. You can:

The final zoning plan will:

  • increase the area of the marine park in green and yellow zones
  • remove commercial large mesh gillnets and ring nets from the yellow zones within Baffle Creek, Elliott River, Burrum River system, the designated Great Sandy Area waterways
  • introduce measures to increase protection of threatened species, cultural heritage and amenity values.

The government has committed to deliver impact mitigation measures for commercial fishers and to provide support to post-harvest seafood businesses and impacted workers in the commercial fishing sector that are directly affected by the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning changes.

Financial support for affected licence holders

Commercial fishers have licences that entitle them to access waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Great Sandy Marine Park and other Queensland waters.

Appropriate financial compensation will be provided to licence holders impacted by the:

  • gillnet reforms in the Great Barrier Reef
  • rezoning of Great Sandy Marine Park
  • gillnet free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Industry will be consulted before the packages are released.

Future Fishing Taskforce

An independently chaired 'Future Fishing Taskforce' will inform the compensation packages to ensure the amounts payable are fair and consistent for all eligible fishing industry participants.

The chair of the taskforce is Mr John Tanzer. He has significant fisheries, marine park and governance experience developed over many years working in Queensland, Commonwealth and international agencies.

Members of the taskforce will include senior representatives from:

  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Department of the Environment and Science
  • Department of the Premier and Cabinet
  • Queensland Treasury
  • Queensland Rural Industry and Development Authority.

The taskforce will seek input from subject matter experts, stakeholders and peak bodies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The results of targeted consultation with affected commercial fishers and processors have been provided for consideration.

The taskforce will focus their discussions on investment and initiatives to protect the Reef, including the following issues:

  • adoption and trialling of sustainable fishing methods and alternatives to gillnets
  • business advice, management and disposal of stranded assets, and retraining and reskilling
  • investment for expansion into new aquaculture and oyster mariculture initiatives, line-caught fisheries, charter and indigenous fishing businesses
  • growing nature-based sustainable economic opportunities
  • investigating 'reef safe' accreditation for export markets
  • managing other potential high risk fishing activities affecting the Great Barrier Reef
  • the operation of the limited-life net fishery licences for the Great Barrier Reef (that will expire in June 2027)
  • the ongoing operation of gillnet licences operating south of the Great Barrier Reef (management region 5), taking into account the Great Sandy Marine Park rezoning
  • other potential gillnet free zones on the east coast and in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The taskforce will also consider assessment of impacts and the development of an impact mitigation package for industry participants who are directly affected by the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan changes. The impact mitigation package will include:

  • financial mitigation for eligible fishers
  • buyback of fishing entitlements (primary licences and symbols) to address displacement of fishing effort and to provide an opportunity for affected fishers to exit the industry
  • purchase of quota units for some species
  • some support for eligible post-harvest seafood businesses to adapt to changed or reduced seafood supply.

Meeting communiques

Next steps

The taskforce intends to conclude its deliberations by the end of August 2023, with advice being presented to government for consideration.

Fisheries Queensland staff will be contacting industry directly to seek their input and advice from those who wish to continue to fish during the transitional phase (between 1 January 2024 and 30 June 2027).

Government will consider the advice received by the taskforce and by November 2023, release the details of the structural adjustment package being offered for each type of:

  • licence/symbol
  • eligibility criteria for payments
  • support being offered for non-licence holders.

Payments and management of the structural adjustment packages will be delivered by agencies or through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA).

Other support for affected licence holders

We acknowledge these changes will have significant financial and psychological impacts on many of our commercial fishers. The Queensland Government has partnered with Stay Afloat to provide mental health support and advice to commercial fishers.

World Heritage Committee decision

At the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in September 2023, the committee agreed to adopt the draft decision proposed by UNESCO to not consider the Great Barrier Reef for the List of World Heritage In Danger.

The committee requested the submission of a progress report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2024 for consideration at next year’s 46th session of the World Heritage Committee.

Read the media release: Great Barrier Reef World Heritage status confirmed.

More information