Communique 12 March 2018

The Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral Fisheries working group met for the first time in Cairns on 12 March 2018.

The working group was provided an overview of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy (the Strategy). The members discussed the key policy objectives and how their input will be used to shape the future management of the Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral fisheries.

Fisheries Queensland provided an outline of the current status of the fishery.  The working group discussed both fisheries and agreed that the information provided was correct.

Fisheries Queensland provided information on the Monitoring and Research Plan and Social and Economic Monitoring, which outlines where the initial investment in monitoring and data under the Strategy will be focused. Working group members discussed the importance of collecting social data which measures the perception of the broader community of the fishery over time. It was identified that the future direction of research and monitoring would be guided by the harvest strategies.

The working group discussed the Queensland Harvest Strategy Policy and Queensland Harvest Strategy Guidelines. The members noted that a harvest strategy would provide more certainty by outlining predetermined management actions based on agreed indicators for fishery performance. Fisheries Queensland will assist the working group with developing the harvest strategies and will undertake consultation with broader fishery stakeholders as development progresses.

The working group members discussed current issues in the Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral fisheries. Members noted the need to overview current historical input and output controls and the need to highlight Wildlife Trade Operations requirements within the harvest strategy for coral. Other issues that were of concern to the working group included compliance, international trade threats, data quality, concentrations of fishing effort on high target coral species and the ability to rapidly respond to fishery independent threats such as climate change.

The working group noted that commercial harvest boats would require vessel tracking by the end of 2020 and was shown an example vessel tracking unit. The members identified issues relating to the operationalisation of vessel tracking including the ability to transfer between vessels. Members also expressed interest in implementing vessel tracking units throughout their industry sooner than 2020.

To start the harvest strategy process, the working group was asked to identify key fishery objectives to set out the direction and aspirations for the fishery. The following draft objectives were recommended by the working group to:

  • ensure sustainability for target species
  • minimise localised concentrations of effort
  • effectively respond to changing environmental and habitat conditions
  • ensure resource sustainability
  • ensure ecosystem resilience
  • maximise the value of tradable units by managing excess capacity
  • maintain and improve market access for Wildlife Trade Operations
  • foster stewardship
  • ensure fisheries management is meeting the expectations of community
  • improve data to improve better management decisions
  • reduce complexity of fishing rules .

The members discussed management reform options that would enable the fishery to be managed to achieve these objectives. The working group agreed that a review of all licence conditions and Queensland legislation is necessary, with a specific focus on which input and output controls are still relevant for the fisheries. Compliance and localised concentrations of effort of key high target coral species were identified by the group as important issues that need to be considered in the development of the harvest strategies, and a strong focus on aligning harvest fisheries with other commercial fisheries was considered to be of benefit into the future. Members also highlighted the value in operators aligning themselves with the representative industry body.

The working group was concluded with a discussion around the next steps that need to be taken for transitioning the Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral fisheries to a harvest strategy framework.

The next working group meeting is scheduled for June to refine the objectives and management review options. Fisheries Queensland will be seeking the views of all stakeholders throughout the process.

Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral fisheries working group members

  • Fisheries Queensland (Chair- Kimberly Foster)
  • commercial fishing (Darren Brighton, Alan Cousland, Alex Doll, Ryan Donnelly, Nic Dos Santos, Daniel Kimberley, Rob Lowe, Ros Paterson, Lyle Squire)
  • science (Morgan Pratchett)
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Randall Owens).