CORAL reef fin fish will be off-limits from Tuesday, October 17 for the first of two annual closures to protect these fish during spawning season.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district manager Robert Russell said the two five-day closures coincided with the new moon when key coral reef fish species aggregate to spawn. “October and November have been found to be the most effective months for closures to protect coral reef fin fish,” Mr Russell said. “This year, the first closure starts immediately after midnight at the beginning of October 17 and ends immediately before midnight at the end of October 21. The second closure starts immediately after midnight at the beginning of November 15 and ends immediately before midnight at the end of November 19.”
The closures are in place from the northern tip of Cape York to Bundaberg in the south (the southern boundary is at latitude 24º50’S). The eastern boundary of the closure is similar to the eastern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Mr Russell said coral reef fin fish include cods and groupers, emperors, parrotfishes, sweetlips, wrasses, coral trout, fusiliers, surgeonfishes, tropical snappers and seaperches.
“It’s important fishers are aware of which species are affected by the closure and know how to correctly identify them,” he said. “A reef fish web guide is available online at www.fisheries.qld.gov.au and the Qld Fishing smartphone app also includes species images to help fishers identify fish listed as coral reef fin fish. The coral reef fin fish closures apply to both commercial and recreational fishers. Charter operators who meet qualifying criteria can apply for an exemption.
“Fishers caught doing the wrong thing during the coral reef fin fish closure risk on-the-spot fines of $504 for recreational fishers and $1009 for commercial fishers and a maximum penalty in excess of $121,000.”
Mr Russell said the closure dates change slightly each year depending on the new moon phases, however closure dates through to 2018 have been set to provide certainty and long-term planning for fishers. For more information on Queensland’s closed fishing seasons, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free Qld Fishing app from Apple and Google app stores.
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