Fisheries reforms

Changes to the Fisheries Act

In March 2018, the Queensland Government released a discussion paper outlining the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994 for public consultation to give effect to the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy: 2017-2027. Over 230 responses to the online survey were received, with most respondents supporting the proposed changes.

Feedback on the discussion paper was considered by the Queensland Government when drafting a Bill to amend the Fisheries Act. In September 2018, the Fisheries (Sustainable Fisheries Strategy) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced to Parliament.

On 28 May, changes to the Fisheries Act 1994 took effect to:

  • modernise the objectives of the Fisheries Act and recognise the interests of key stakeholder groups
  • clarify the roles of the Fisheries Minister and the chief executive in the management of the state’s fisheries and to allow for more responsive decision-making through the use of harvest strategies
  • strengthen enforcement powers and penalties to address serious fisheries offences such as black-marketing
  • reduce complexity and remove redundant provisions.

Changes also included tougher penalties to combat black-marketing and a 20m shark control exclusion zone.

Note: A new-look Fisheries Regulation 2008 also took effect from 28 May 2019; however, there were no changes to the rules – just an updated structure, the East Coast Trawl Management Plan was incorporated, and parts of the Regulation were moved to declarations.

Fishery reform consultation

In March 2018, public consultation was also undertaken to seek feedback on reforms to the east coast inshore, east coast trawl, and crab fisheries, and a management review of the reef line fishery. The proposed reforms included splitting the management of some fisheries into regions, introducing quotas or limits on fishing days, improving fishing gear technology, reviewing fish size and possession limits, and temporary/flexible closures for fishing. Almost 500 online survey responses were received and 340 face-to-face meetings were held across the state.

Directions paper

The need for fisheries reform in Queensland has been an ongoing discussion over a number of years, starting with the MRAG review of fishery management practices in 2014, followed by the green paper on fisheries management reform in 2016 (which received more than 11,000 submissions). The overwhelming message was that all stakeholders wanted the management of fisheries to be reformed.

In January 2019, the Queensland Government released a directions paper to ensure all fishers and the broader community were aware of the government’s direction on how best to manage priority fisheries.

New fisheries Regulations

In June 2019, a discussion paper was released on proposed amendments to the Fisheries Regulation 2008. As a result of this consultation, a number of changes were made to the structure of fisheries legislation (establishing two separate Regulations), along with changes to some recreational, charter and commercial fishing rules. This includes a number of changes to rebuild snapper, pearl perch and scallop stocks – they are all considered depleted, with stock levels under the nationally recommended 20% biomass level.

Queensland’s new fisheries Regulations commenced on 1 September 2019.