A MACKAY dory operator has received a $6000 fine after being caught fishing for coral trout in a green zone in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Mackay Magistrates’ Court convicted the dory operator last week after he was detected fishing offshore of Mackay in the Swain Reefs area by aerial surveillance.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s acting field management director Mark Read said the agency prosecuted the dory operator under the Great Barrier Marine Park Act 1975, which prohibits fishing in green zone (no-take) areas.
“This recent case shows that people who engage in illegal commercial fishing run the real risk of considerable fines if they choose to flout the law,” Dr Read said. “Even small amounts of non-compliance can undermine the effectiveness of green zones, which is why we’re doing all we can to reduce the level of illegal fishing, including taking these types of cases to court.”
The court heard the incident happened in January 2015 and that the dory operator had one previous conviction for being unattached in a green zone.
The $6000 fine handed to the dory operator follows an $8500 fine imposed by the Mackay Magistrates’ Court in February this year on the operation’s vessel master for allowing three of his dories to be unattached in a green zone. Cases against the other two dory operators were heard in March this year, with one fined $5000 for fishing in a green zone, while the other was handed a $2500 fine for being unattached in a green zone.
Green zones form part of a network of protected areas in the Marine Park designed to conserve the Great Barrier Reef’s biodiversity. Suspected illegal commercial fishing activities are targeted through regular land-based and aerial surveillance operations. Patrols are conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Maritime Border Command, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, and Queensland Police.
Suspected incidences of illegal fishing can be made at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident