News

Black market fishing is killing off local stocks

ILLEGAL fishing and a voracious black market for Gladstone's best species could be driving the decline of local fish stocks.

And if there's no fish, there's no fishing - so local fishers are worried.

Amateur fisherman of 30 years experience, Charles Hartridge, said Gladstone region fishers have observed the decline of key species.

"We all collect a lot of data, and over the years you can see the decline in the number of red throat emperor that are caught," he said.

"Fish stocks have gone down considerably but no changes have happened."

The highly prized deep-sea fish is a local favourite and is also exported, but because local knowledge doesn't match statewide trends, its population is deemed sustainable by the fisheries authority.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said red throat emperor populations were sustainable but confirmed this assessment does not provide localised data on the health of fish stocks.

Because of competition from overseas fish farms which have reliable supply and less costs, local commercial fishers are under pressure to exceed their catch quotas, according to Mr Hartridge.

"If it's not for 'quota creep' they wouldn't make profit," he said.

Fishing over quota is illegal, but enforcement has been lax according to local charter operator Johnny Mitchell.

He said that since Gladstone lost its dedicated government fisheries officers, enforcement of fisheries rules is basically non- existent.

"For years when we grew up we had fisheries officers, who would pull you up on the water and check your catch and your boat," he said. "The government's pulled funding and just about ripped the mat out from under the majority of fisheries officers."

As a result, Gladstone no longer has its own fisheries enforcement officers.

"Instead of being able to bring home their bag limit, there's no reason they can't then onsell fish illegally," Mr Mitchell said.

To add to this problem, people want cheap, quality fresh fish and if they can't get it "off the back of the boat" from local fishermen, "they'll go to a supermarket and buy frozen, crap fish", according to Mr Hartridge.

Both Mr Hartridge and Mr Mitchell were enthusiastic about the potential for a review of fisheries management to help address these and other important issues.

"Last night it was a very dignified meeting where both camps (commercial and recreational fishers) had time to speak about what their concerns in the industry were," Mr Hartridge said.

A spokesperson for the fisheries department said members of the public should report suspected illegal fishing and the illegal sale of fish to the Fishwatch Hotline on 1800 017 116.

Topics:  fishing gladstone illegal fishing seafood



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Rio Tinto throws in $6m for Glastone

HELPING HAND: Damian Morgan, Tina Zawila and Kylie Devine are part of the Here for Business program supported by the Rio Tinto Community Fund.

MINING GIANT throws in a whopping sum for Gladstone locals.

He 'snapped' when his pregnant partner refused sex

Domestic violence and assault is one are of law which the Murwillumbah Local Court deals with.

MAN threatened to kill himself in front of their kids.

Pay rise for Gladstone mayor, councillors

Mayor Matt Burnett.

GLADSTONE'S LEADERS will enjoy watching their pay rise soon.

Local Partners

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Robert Irwin, wildlife photographer

SNAPPER: Apart from wildlife, photography is Robert Irwin's great passion.

Steve's boy has a passion for photography

Louis Tomlinson's tribute to late mother

Louis Tomlinson's new single is a tribute to his late mother.

Justin Timberlake stuns students with secret class

Justin Timberlake stunned high school students in Sydney

Carrie Fisher says Ford will be bugged by affair confession

Carrie Fisher is sure Harrison Ford is annoyed at her

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with childhood sweetheart

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with ex

Jennifer Lawrence apologises to the people of Hawaii

Jennifer Lawrence sorry for 'offensive' story

Essential to get new Maroochydore CBD fundamentals right

LOOKING AHEAD: The central business district at Maroochydore is planned to be the heart of the Sunshine Coast.

SunCentral reports good progress on 53ha Sunshine Coast city heart

'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

"You can't have one without the other.”

Former Shark Show for sale for $1.3 million

Vic Hislop at the old Shark Show.

TALK about a jaws-dropping real estate opportunity.

There's a whole lot of luxury in this home

The Endeavour Foundation's latest prize home in Mountain Creek.

WHEN it comes to desirable homes, it's hard to go past a prize home.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!