Marine aquarium fish and coral fisheries working group

Communique 20-21 May 2019

The Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral Fisheries working group met for the fifth time in Mackay on 20 and 21 of March.

Role of the working group: The Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral Fisheries working group will provide advice on the operational aspects of managing the Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery and the Queensland Coral Fishery and the development of a harvest strategy consistent with the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. The current focus is the harvest of live coral and aquarium fish to export for the ornamental aquarium industry.

The working group discussed proposed changes to the Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery and Queensland Coral Fishery rules as outlined in the discussion paper soon to be released for public consultation. Discussed changes included harvest fisheries licence and boat mark arrangements, transhipment of product between commercial harvest fishing vessels and the use of commercial fisher licences within harvest fisheries. The working group agreed that these proposals should be consulted on more broadly.

Fisheries Queensland updated the working group on the feedback received from members regarding the current definition of aquaculture and policy development to manage the activity. The working group noted the proposal to include all asexually fragged coral attached to plugs and all sexually reproduced coral as aquacultured product in the upcoming consultation. The working group had mixed views and encourage all licence holders to submit formal comments on the paper.

The working group reviewed the final Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery and Queensland Coral Fishery harvest strategies. A key focus was on refining the reference points and decision rules for Tier 1 and Tier 2 species and localised concentrations of effort. The working group agreed to endorse the final draft with discussed modifications and noted that this final draft is set for public consultation later in the year. To manage targeting of Tier 1 species the working group supported a spawning closure for Homophyllia (nee Scolymia) species next quota season, prior to the implementation of the harvest strategy.

The working group was concluded with a discussion around the next steps required to transition the Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral Fishery to a harvest strategy. New arrangements are subject to consultation and would commence 1 July 2020.

The next working group meeting is tentatively scheduled for September.

The Marine Aquarium Fish and Queensland Coral Fisheries Working Group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Chair- Kimberly Foster), commercial fishing (Darren Brighton (apology), Alan Cousland, Alexander Doll, Ryan Donnelly, Nicholas Dos Santos, Daniel Kimberly, Robert Lowe, Ros Paterson, Lyle Squire, science (Morgan Pratchett) and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Randall Owens).