GOLD Coast residents can expect to see commercial fishing boats close to and on the shoreline until the end of August as part of the annual mullet season.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district manager Brett Depper said commercial fishing for mullet is permitted in tidal waters within 400m of land. “Commercial fishing along ocean beaches for mullet occurs from April 1 to August 31,” Mr Depper said. “Every year we receive a number of calls about the size and location of nets close to the shoreline. Commercial fishing in the area is permitted and recreational fishers can continue to fish along the shoreline as normal. Commercial fishers use seine nets to catch fish that congregate along ocean beaches.
“Although seine nets can appear to be sizeable from the coastline, they are regulated by length, mesh size, drop and depth. QBFP will be patrolling the area and will be checking net sizes and lengths as well as operators’ licences, vessels and catch.”
Mr Depper reminded people that it is an offence to interfere with a commercial fishing operation and on-the-spot fines apply. “Although the netting process is very interesting to watch, when the orange flags are up it means fishing is imminent,” he said. “The beach becomes a very busy workplace, with moving vehicles and heavy loads of fish brought back to shore for sorting. There is a general risk to beachgoers who should remain at a safe distance from the action for their own safety.”
Mr Depper said sea mullet was one of the key commercial species monitored by Fisheries Queensland. “Information collected from the ocean beach sector of the fishery includes length, sex and age of fish being caught,” he said. “This information is used to help monitor trends in the status of the sea mullet stock to ensure the sustainability of the fishery and to evaluate the effectiveness of fisheries management strategies.”
For more information on sea mullet, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23. You can follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesQld).