Communique 14 December 2018

The second meeting of the Moreton Bay Working Group was held in Brisbane 14 December 2018. The purpose of this meeting was to refine fishery objectives and discuss initial options for trialling a regional management approach in Moreton Bay.

Working group members discussed the value and importance of fishing in Moreton Bay across traditional, commercial and recreational sectors. Members agreed that improved consumer awareness and country-of-origin/production method (wild-caught or farmed) labelling would provide more value to product caught in Moreton Bay, most of which is sold and consumed in the south-east corner.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027. Members noted that harvest strategy development for the trawl, crab and east coast inshore fisheries was being progressed by the fishery-specific working groups. The working group was also advised that the Queensland Government is currently considering management changes for these fisheries with information expected to be communicated to stakeholders in early 2019.

The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation representatives advised that the traditional owners from the Kabi Kabi and Yugembir groups have expressed interest in the regional management trial and should be invited to share their knowledge and participate.

A discussion on net free zones was requested by recreational members. Fisheries Queensland advised that a net free zone is a reallocation and the Reallocation of Fisheries Resources Policy applies.  It requires any proponent proposing a reallocation to prepare a cost-benefits analysis and where commercial fishing access is affected outline a funding proposal for the payment of compensation. The working group was advised that there is currently no Government funding allocated for net free zones or licence buybacks.

Commercial members reiterated that compulsory weekend closures and fishing rules are already in place for the commercial sector, in addition to green/yellow zones that limit commercial access in this region.

Working group members refined values and issues into cultural, ecological, social and economic groups. Members identified a number of issues regarding habitat, development and environmental influences on fisheries productivity that were not regulated under the Fisheries Act 1994 but were important to Moreton Bay being a world-class fishery. Members supported collaboration between sectors to provide advice on any developments which may impact fisheries in Moreton Bay and advocate for improvement across Government.

The working group engaged in an activity to prioritise issues in the fishery based on being within scope of the Fisheries Act, valuable and achievable. Members agreed to finalise the prioritisation of issues out-of-session.

The working group developed a list of draft fishery objectives to guide the development of regional management in Moreton Bay. Members agreed the aim of the trial is to implement regional management to protect cultural, social, ecological and economic values as identified. A number of objectives were drafted including: improving the understanding of cultural values, reducing conflict (within and between sectors), improving stewardship and satisfaction with fishing, maintaining access to Moreton Bay seafood, minimising the risk of localised depletions, reducing waste/bycatch, advocating for improved habitat and rehabilitation and maintaining current viable fishing businesses. These objectives will be further considered at the next working group meeting.

The working group broke up into sectoral groups to brainstorm initial ideas for regional management which would meet the draft objectives. Members were asked to identify a preferred solution to each issue, conditions to be met, ability for it to be implemented, potential impacts on each sector, data requirements and the strengths, weaknesses and risks. These ideas will be further developed by the working group next meeting into options. The working group agreed further work was required to investigate localised depletion concerns, look at options for shared responsibility for the resource and to identify key groups to work with on habitat protection.

The next working group is scheduled for February 2019 to finalise objectives and discuss the proposed options for regional management.