IF you are planning a fishing trip to Cape York Peninsula, remember to drive on designated access tracks to avoid saltmarsh damage caused by off-track vehicles.
The Kalpowar Recreational Reserve, adjacent to the Princess Charlotte Bay declared Fish Habitat Area has seen four-wheel-drives recently traverse the track to Bathurst Heads, which is not a designated road. Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district manager Bob Russell reminded visitors of the importance of the habitat in the area.
“The Princess Charlotte Bay declared Fish Habitat Area is one of the largest tidal wetland areas in Australia,” Mr Russell said.
“It is a place of commercial, recreational and Indigenous fisheries significance and is abundant with saltmarshes, mangroves, tidal wetlands and mud flats.
“We would like to remind visitors that driving on saltmarshes and saltpans causes significant damage to them and they can take many years to recover.
“Fines of up to $341,500 can be imposed for the destruction of marine plants.”
Senior fisheries scientist Louise Johns said marine plants play an important part in ensuring sustainable fish habitats and fisheries production and are protected under fisheries legislation.
“Saltmarshes are important in providing habitat to juvenile fish and prawns and also add to the carbon cycle in adjacent wetlands,” Ms Johns said.
“Tyre damage directly affects saltmarshes and saltpans and creates soil ruts, which reduce the functionality of the ecosystem and its drainage patterns.
“Mangroves and other marine plants are vital natural resources providing shelter, food and nursery areas to about 75 percent of fish species caught in Queensland.
“They are important to coastal ecosystems, helping to sustain fish for productive fishing sectors.”
For more information on marine habitat protection in Queensland, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.