Moreton Bay working group

Communique 15 February 2019

Role of the working group: is to provide advice on the operational aspects of managing a range of fisheries and sharing fisheries resources within Moreton Bay. This does not represent government policy.

The third meeting of the Moreton Bay Working Group was held in Brisbane 15 February 2019. The purpose of this meeting was to endorse fishery values, issues and objectives and continue discussions on options for trialling a regional management approach in Moreton Bay. Ian Tibbetts, chair of the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel, attended the meeting to answer working group questions and provide information on the role of the Expert Panel to date.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027. Members noted that the Directions Paper on Fisheries Reform had been released with a number of management changes identified for the trawl, east coast inshore fin fish and crab fisheries. This involves things like splitting fisheries into regions, setting regional catch or effort limits, and Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) for some key species in the crab and east coast inshore fin fish fisheries. Fisheries Queensland advised there would be further opportunities for stakeholders to have their say over the next 6-12 months during consultation on draft regulatory changes.

In relation to net free zones, the working group noted that there was no current proposal from government to establish a net free zone in Moreton Bay. Instead, the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy includes an action to pilot regional management in a key location to assess the benefits and limitation of regional specific management arrangements.  It was decided that Moreton Bay would be a suitable area for the trial.

The working group endorsed a list of cultural, ecological, social and economic values and issues to guide discussions on regional management options for Moreton Bay. Some additional cultural values and issues included to capture the cultural significance of Moreton Bay to Traditional Owners and the need for better information and engagement. Black-marketing was also identified as a major issue by all stakeholders, noting that all sectors are involved in this organised illegal activity. The working group recommended education on what constitutes black-marketing and the impact of it on the value of fisheries resources may help reduce non-compliance. Members noted the inter-related nature of these.

The working group prioritised each of the issues grouping them in either high, medium or low priorities. The working group identified habitat protection and rehabilitation as a priority issue for the Moreton Bay fishery, noting that it is not entirely within the scope of Fisheries Queensland and will require a whole-of-government approach to achieve change. All members strongly advocated for collaboration between agencies and governments to protect and rehabilitate Moreton Bay.  Members agreed that improvement in this area alone would make a significant contribution to maintaining the values of Moreton Bay. The working group recommended this issue be referred to the Expert Panel for advice on how best to advocate for change in this area.

Members endorsed cultural, ecological, economic and social objectives for the Moreton Bay fishery. A number of new cultural objectives were included as well as new objectives to advocate for resourcing to fill knowledge gaps and to protect vulnerable spawning aggregations for some species.

The working group engaged in an activity to scope a range of options for Fisheries Queensland, Traditional Owner groups, recreational fishers and commercial fishers to pursue to achieve the objectives. These included things like:

  • Improved education for all stakeholders
  • Reviewing permitted species, size and possession limits
  • Advocating for habitat protection and rehabilitation
  • Improved understanding of local seafood markets
  • Memorandum of Understanding with QYAC
  • Improved education of fishers on areas important for cultural heritage
  • Improved understanding of Moreton Bay sustainable catch levels and impacts of fishing
  • Education on what constitutes black-marketing
  • Education on best practice fishing; Codes of Practice
  • Education on catch and release; most suitable gear types.
  • Improved fisheries input into catchment management plans
  • Education and promotion on how to prepare Moreton Bay fish product

The working group agreed that out of session they would consider key conflict issues and report to the next working group with possible solutions and trade-offs for further consideration.  The working group also noted that the impact of changes would need to be considered and would also be subject to public consultation.

The next working group is scheduled for May-June 2019 to discuss proposed options for regional management.

The Moreton Bay Working Group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Chair – Kimberly Foster), QYAC (Cameron Costello, Joel Bolzenuis), commercial fishing (Michael Wood, Greg Savige, Mark Kleinschmidt, Matt Vujica, Jason Thomson), recreational fishing (Judy Lynne, Barry Pollock, Martin Cowling), retailer (Mark Templeton), science (Norm Good), charter (Mathew Hubbard), conservation (Paul Maxwell).