Fishermen slapped with 12-month ban for Swain Reefs offences
TWO commercial fishers have been banned from fishing at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for a year after they were convicted of multiple offences off Gladstone's coast over 10 years.
The fishermen's offences occurred at Swain Reefs, which extend from 110km to 250km offshore from Gladstone and Rockhampton.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the fishermen had "repeated disregard of zoning rules, threatening the health of the Reef".
Field management director Richard Quincey said the ban covered commercial and recreational fishing and collecting across the 344,400 square-kilometre Marine Park.
Failure to comply with the ban could result in further prosecution and a fine of up to $105,000.
"This penalty emphasises the importance that's placed on protecting no-take areas and the seriousness of these illegal fishing offences," Mr Quincey said.
Mr Quincey said that law-abiding commercial fishers understood that sustainable fishing was important for a sustainable fishery and Reef recovery.
"Fishers who intentionally ignore no-take zone rules are letting down honest fishers and pose an unacceptable threat to the Reef," Mr Quincey said.
"The cumulative impacts of illegal fishing can have significant ecological impacts and threaten Reef resilience and we treat it as a serious offence.
"Green zones are more important than ever to support the Reef ecosystem to recover from persistent threats. Following the zoning rules is critical in this recovery, and we are supporting this by making enhanced compliance one of the cornerstones in our recently-released Reef Blueprint."
All Marine Park users can play their part by making sure they know and follow zoning rules, ensuring they don't anchor on coral, and by reporting any illegal activity they see.
Reports of suspected illegal activity in the Marine Park can be made anonymously by calling the 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or online. All reports are valued and investigated.