Fisheries reforms

Changes to fisheries regulations

June 2022

On 28 October 2021, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment made a Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) declaration, commonly referred to as a WTO export approval, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for the Queensland coral fishery. The WTO export approval was subject to nine conditions, a number of which had to be implemented before the commencement of the 2022–23 fishing season.

Fisheries Queensland sought feedback from commercial coral fishers and other stakeholders on management action to implement the WTO conditions.

Changes to the Fisheries Declaration 2019 took effect from 1 July 2022.

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September 2020

Changes to fisheries regulations were announced on 30 September 2020 to ensure the sustainability of Queensland’s commercial fishing industry.

A number of red tape reduction and streamlining measures commenced immediately to support the economic recovery of the commercial fishing industry, while changes necessary to protect and maintain export approvals will commence on 1 September 2021. This will give commercial fishing businesses time to recover and transition following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of these reforms, a draft harvest strategy policy and 13 draft harvest strategies were released for consultation to guide the future management of our fisheries.

No major changes to recreational and charter sector regulations were made in this round of reforms – only minor administrative amendments to provide consistency across all fishing sectors.

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September 2019

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 included 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.

A number of changes to Queensland’s fisheries Regulations commenced on 1 September 2019.

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Changes to the Fisheries Act 1994

March 2018 to May 2019

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.

Directions paper release

January 2019

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.

Fishery reform consultation

March 2018

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.