What it means for commercial fishers

What does the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy mean for commercial fishers?decorative

The Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 paves the way for Queensland to have a world-class fisheries management system.

The strategy outlines 33 actions to be delivered across 10 reform areas with set targets to be achieved by 2020 and 2027.

These reforms will ensure healthy fish stocks that will support thousands of Queensland jobs. The Strategy will also deliver a modern and responsive system that is transparent and based on good monitoring and research.

Commercial fishers will benefit from:

  • More secure access entitlements.
  • A more stable and transparent operating environment through harvest strategies.
  • More resilient fish stocks.
  • Better fisheries data from all sectors.
  • Increased government investment in new technologies to collect data.
  • Understanding and better management of risks to protected species from fishing will assist to maintain fishery accreditation under Commonwealth legislation.
  • More opportunities to be involved in fisheries management, through working groups and other engagement activities.
  • Defined and transparent process for re-allocating access between sectors.
  • A decision-making process which is more responsive to changing conditions.

What changes will I see, and when?

The reforms will fundamentally change the way we manage fisheries. Immediate actions will include:

  • establishing better engagement mechanisms through fishery-specific working groups and establishing a Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel
  • a monitoring and research program to guide investment in data collection
  • 20 more compliance officers recruited immediately and placed in regional locations.

Fishery-specific reforms will be considered as each harvest strategy is developed. The priorities for 2017-18 are the crab, trawl and east coast inshore net fisheries.

As this process is rolled out there will be an opportunity to have your say on the fisheries that matter to you.

How quickly will the reforms be delivered?

Given the scale of the reform needed to more sustainably manage our fisheries, we have committed to achieving the objectives of the Strategy over 10 years.

This Strategy sets out clear targets to be achieved by 2020 and 2027 along with a range of actions, some with defined delivery dates.

What changed as a result of feedback to the Green Paper?

The overwhelming message was that all stakeholders wanted reform to the way we manage fisheries. In particular, strong support for better fishery monitoring, more effective engagement, more responsive decision making and greater fisheries compliance.

The proposed reforms in these areas were retained and in many cases strengthened in the Strategy. See the Results of the fisheries green paper consultation report on the Department on Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) website for more detailed feedback from all sectors.

What is a harvest strategy?

A harvest strategy is a framework to set out the overall fishery objectives, performance targets, triggers for management action and appropriate management responses.  

A Harvest Strategy Guideline will be developed to outline the process Fisheries Queensland will follow including how working groups and broader consultation will assist with their development.

Why does the Strategy propose using quota more?

The Strategy clearly states the preference for fish stocks to be managed using output controls like quota. This limits the amount of fish that can be harvested while providing fishers more opportunity for fishers to use more efficient and innovative methods.

A number of fisheries in Queensland are already successfully managed by quota (e.g. Coral Reef Finfish Fishery).  

While not every fishery may be suitable for quota management, the preference will be towards this. Each fishery working group will work with Fisheries Queensland to consider what species could be quota managed.

Why is vessel tracking required on all commercial boats?

Fisheries Queensland has been tracking commercial fishing vessels for compliance and monitoring purposes since 1996.

The use of modern technologies like vessel tracking will help modernise fisheries management in Queensland. It will lead to more informed and responsive management, which can only be of benefit to the marine resources upon which many regional economies are dependent.

The Strategy will see vessel tracking units installed on all commercial vessels by 2020, with a priority to install units on net, line and crab commercial fishing vessels by 2018.

Who will pay for vessel tracking?

Like the benefits, the costs of introducing vessel tracking into these fisheries will be shared between government and industry.

Find out more about the roll-out of vessel tracking.

What about reforms to the rest of the fisheries (e.g. line and Gulf)?

It is recognised that reforms are required to a number of Queensland's fisheries to bring them in line with the principles in the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. However, we will need to prioritise our effort in line with the agreed actions and targets.

The priority fisheries for harvest strategies and reform are the trawl, crab, and east coast inshore net fisheries.

Based on individual fishery or species risks and available resourcing Fisheries Queensland will progressively roll out harvest strategies for all other fisheries by 2020.

What is the biomass target for stocks?

The Strategy sets targets for Queensland’s fish stocks to achieve a biomass of at least 40-50 per cent of the original unfished population (or maximum sustainable yield) by 2020, where fish stocks are generally considered sustainable.

The Strategy also sets a target to build stocks up to a biomass target of 60 per cent of the original unfished population (or maximum economic yield) by 2027 that maximises commercial profitability, the quality of fishing, and stock resilience over time.

Biomass targets will be set in harvest strategies. Sustainable catch (and/or effort) limits for all sectors may need to be put in place to achieve these targets.

What is the role of the working groups and expert panel?

The Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel will provide independent expert advice to the Minister and Fisheries Queensland on the appropriateness and feasibility of fisheries management proposals and strategies including options to improve management.

The Working Groups will provide operational advice to Fisheries Queensland on particular fisheries, and assist with the development and implementation of harvest strategies.

How can I keep up to date on the implementation of the Strategy?

To keep up to date, follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and subscribe to CatchNews for the latest information and opportunities to get involved.