Fisheries reform

Changes to fisheries regulations: September 2019

Queensland’s new fisheries regulations commenced 1 September 2019.

As a result of the consultation on the proposed amendments to the Fisheries Regulation 2008, number of changes have been 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. These are all considered depleted, with stock levels under the nationally recommended 20% biomass level.

Changes for commercial fishers include:

  • a new annual seasonal closure for snapper and pearl perch from 15 July to 15 August
  • increasing the size limit of pearl perch from 35cm to 38cm
  • new total allowable commercial catch limits of 42 tonnes for snapper and 15 tonnes for pearl perch (there is currently no catch limit on these species)
  • expanding vessel tracking for remaining commercial fishing boats from 1 January 2020
  • extending the winter scallop closure by 1 month to open 1 December 2019
  • increasing the number of spanner crab traps from 45 to 75
  • small area closures to protect juvenile prawns in South East Queensland to improve profitability for trawl operators.

Changes for recreational fishers include:

  • a new annual seasonal closure for snapper and pearl perch from 15 July to 15 August
  • increasing the size limit of pearl perch from 35cm to 38cm
  • removing extended charter catch limits for snapper and pearl perch
  • new boat limits for mud crab, prawns, snapper, black jewfish, barramundi, Spanish mackerel, shark, tropical rock lobster and sea cucumber, which hold the operator of the boat responsible for ensuring no more than 2 times the possession limit of these 9 priority black-market species is on board at any time (the boat limit does not apply to charter boats)
  • general possession limit of 20 fish for species without a prescribed possession limit, excluding some bait species
  • reducing the mud crab possession limit from 10 to 7
  • reducing pipi and mollusc limits from 50 to 30.

These changes are designed to ensure fish for the future – for more details, read the following fact sheets:

As part of the fisheries reform process, further regulatory changes are expected to be considered before the end of the year.

Proposed amendments to the Fisheries Regulation 2008

Extensive consultation on fisheries reforms has occurred over the last two years and the final round of public consultation on proposed regulatory changes has closed. All feedback has been considered by the relevant working groups and the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel, and a number of changes have been made as a result of that feedback.

The proposed changes to the Fisheries Regulation 2008 in the discussion paper aimed to:

  • implement the fisheries reforms—essential for long-term sustainability and profitability
  • progress urgent sustainability actions to take the pressure off snapper and pearl perch
  • standardise fishing rules and strengthening enforcement powers
  • reduce red tape and remove unnecessary restrictions.

Further detail is available in the papers below.

More information

Directions Paper on fisheries reforms

The Queensland Government has released the ‘Directions Paper on fisheries reforms’ to ensure all fishers and the broader community are aware of the government’s direction on how best to manage the priority fisheries and the next steps.

What is the Directions paper?

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

The current system is not fit for purpose. There are few catch limits, poor compliance, and high conflict between stakeholders and concerns about bycatch and protected species interactions. Doing nothing is not an option.

We want our fisheries to be sustainable for the future, profitable for our commercial fishers, enjoyable for our recreational fishers and maintain access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders fishers for traditional fishing and commercial fishing development.

The Queensland Government has sought input from all sectors about reforms needed to our major fisheries. Independent advice has also been provided over the last 12 months through the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel.

The Directions paper intends to provide certainty to fishers about the reforms that will be implemented, through amendments to the Fisheries Regulation 2008, later in 2019.

Harvest strategies

A priority of the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy is to develop harvest strategies for these fisheries to ensure they are being managed to best practice standards, giving industry and the community certainty about their future.

Fishery reform discussion paper consultation results

In keeping with the commitments outlined in the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027, public consultation was undertaken recently to seek feedback on reform of the East Coast Inshore, East Coast Trawl and Queensland Crab fisheries. Discussion papers were also released for a management review of the Reef Line fishery and proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994. Public consultation was opened in March 2018 and closed on 20 May 2018. The proposed reforms include things like 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 having temporary and flexible closures for fishing.

Consultation was open for eight weeks with a good response received of almost 500 online survey responses and 340 face-to-face meetings across the state. Feedback from this consultation period has been summarised into the report Results of Consultation: Discussion Papers on the proposed reform options for the East Coast Inshore, Otter Trawl and Crab fisheries and management review of the Coral Reef Line Fishery.

Fisheries Act consultation results

The discussion paper on proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994 to give effect to the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 received over 230 responses to the online survey. Generally, most respondents supported the proposed changes. The results from this consultation have been summarised in the report Proposed amendments to modernise the Fisheries Act 1994: consultation results.

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.