A 500 gram bladder can earn fishermen between $400 and $900, as well as the profitable market price for the rest of the fish. PICTURE: Ashley Pillhofer
A 500 gram bladder can earn fishermen between $400 and $900, as well as the profitable market price for the rest of the fish. PICTURE: Ashley Pillhofer

$400k penalties in play as Jewfish limit reached

THE entire annual allocation of the state's Black Jewfish total allowable catch has been met within two months.

Mackay commercial fisher David Caracciolo said he was "quite surprised" the TAC lasted longer than last year considering the high commercial demand.

In 2019, the Black Jewfish 20 tonne limit was reached in six weeks.

The species is now closed to commercial and recreational fishing until January 1, 2021. Penalties of up to $400,350 or three years imprisonment apply for anyone caught with a commercial quantity or the intention of black-marketing the fish.

Demand for the lucrative swim bladders, which are sold on the Asian market, sent Queensland's commercial catch soaring before a catch limit was introduced in 2018.

Mr Caracciolo attributed this year's extended season to "sensible" caution from fishers.

"There was hesitation from fishers because the fish are (full of roe) at this time of year," he said.

"At the end of the day fishers are conservationists.

"We (commercial fishers) lobbied the government about not opening the catch (in January) and prolonging it to April to let the fish spawn, but they didn't."

The longer catch period defied predictions from commercial fishers earlier this year, with estimates the quota would be met within a month after 22 per cent of the catch was caught in six days.

At the time, Mr Caracciolo said the small catch limit had sent the industry into a "bonanza" as fishers across the state tried to get their cut before the limit was reached.



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