Communique 28 September 2018

The first meeting of the Moreton Bay Working Group discussed a range of local matters to start the process of trialling a regional management approach to fisheries management in this area.

Fisheries Queensland provided an overview on the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027. The working group noted the progress report on implementing the Strategy and in particular that work to improve engagement had been identified.  The working group was advised that where Moreton Bay specific-issues cross over between working groups, Fisheries Queensland will facilitate the transfer of information, questions & advice.

Fisheries Queensland provided the working group with an overview of the current status of the Moreton Bay fishery to inform discussion.  The working group noted that a range of Aboriginal fishing, commercial fishing and recreational fishing occur and all have benefits to the South East Queensland community. There remains some uncertainty around the amount of commercially caught finfish that is retailed to SEQ as opposed to Sydney or other similar markets.  The working group sought some additional data around species, fisheries and areas of catch.

The working group considered an appropriate geographic boundary for the Moreton Bay Regional Management Trial.  After discussion around what best represents the Moreton Bay fishery, the working group recommended the trial apply to the following area: the northern, eastern and southern Moreton Bay Marine Park ‘outer’ boundaries and the tidal waters of rivers flowing in to this area (e.g. Brisbane River).  Freshwater fisheries will not be considered as part of this process. The Moreton Bay Marine Park map can be viewed here.

The working group identified the cultural, ecological, social, & economic values for the Moreton Bay fishery.  The Quandamooka People’s unbroken connection with Moreton Bay was acknowledged.  It was noted that despite the conflict all members agreed that improvement was needed and it was important that all sectors be part of the solution.  The working group expressed it wants this process to have a positive outcome so as to maximise the value of this uniquely important fishery to all.

The working group members discussed current issues, including:

  • Ecological issues such as localised depletion of certain species, bycatch from fishing, impact of bait netting by all sectors, lack of research and information to support decision making specific to Moreton Bay.
  • Economic issues such as maintaining viable commercial fishing, associated recreational fishing businesses and charter businesses, security of access, shifts in markets and demand is changing fishing practices and in some species creating black marketing issues, white spot disease, better management of fishing bycatch and waste.
  • Social issues such as conflict, acknowledgement of traditional fishing and country, maintaining access to local seafood, operating a fishery within the Moreton Bay Marine Park, recreational and charter fishing satisfaction, improving training requirements for commercial fishers, getting younger people involved in fishing and better education to promote voluntary compliance and responsible fishing by all.

All members agreed that there were a number of non-fisheries management issues that will influence the future of the fishery including water quality, coastal and port development, habitat impacts, pollution, erosion, boat wash and siltation. The working group acknowledged that fishery productivity in Moreton Bay is also heavily affected by environmental factors like river flow and coastal habitat, which have been heavily modified.

To start the regional management process, the working group was asked to identify key fishery objectives to set out the direction and aspirations for managing the Moreton Bay fishery. While some progress was made, further work is required on developing cultural, ecological, social and economic objectives.

A further working group meeting was scheduled for December 2018 to refine the objectives and regional management options. No decisions have been made and Fisheries Queensland will be seeking the views of all stakeholders throughout the regional management trial process.

The Moreton Bay Working Group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Chair – Scott Spencer), QYAC (Cameron Costello), commercial fishing (Michael Wood, Greg Saviage, Mark Kleinschmidt), recreational fishing (Judy Lynne, Dr Barry Pollock, Martin Cowling,), science (Norm Good), charter (Mathew Hubbard). Apologies: Brett Depper, Matthew Vujica, Jason Thomson, Mark Templeton, Paul Maxwell