zones

New net-free fishing zones planned for Gulf of Carpentaria

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

  • From May this year new gillnet fishing zones will be introduced in the Gulf
  • More than 4000 submissions provided feedback on consultation paper
  • Industry assistance and adjustment package to be rolled out
  • Full suite of changes to be announced within weeks.

Gillnet-free fishing zones will be established in the Gulf of Carpentaria as part of structural changes to commercial fishing from the west coast of Queensland to the Northern Territory border.

Fishing with gillnets will be prohibited in the zones to prevent adverse impacts on threatened species from gillnet fishing, while making provision for continued fishing to support strong local communities as well as local and regional seafood supply.

A discussion paper outlining proposed future management options for commercial fishing in the Gulf was opened for public consultation late last year, with 4104 submissions and survey responses received indicating majority support for additional net free zones.

The final locations and design of gillnet-free zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria are still to be finalised, but Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the gillnet-free zones would commence on 17 May. Final details on the locations will be announced in early April after further consultation.

Between October and December last year stakeholder consultation occurred on the following draft four zones:

  • Northern Zone – all rivers and creeks and nearshore waters from Thud Point north to the tip of Cape York.
  • The Western Zone – all rivers and creeks and nearshore waters from the border with the Northern Territory east to Johns Creek, including all N3 waters around the Wellesley Islands.
  • The Norman River Zone – all remaining waters of the Norman River and associated tributaries.
  • The Pormpuraaw Zone – all rivers, creeks, and nearshore waters between Balurga Creek and the Chapman River, including nearshore waters north of Balurga Creek and south of the Chapman River.

Other measures considered during the consultation period included:

  • Short to medium-term actions to rebuild king threadfin stocks;
  • Implementation of a new harvest strategy;
  • Improved reporting arrangements; and
  • Implementation of independent onboard monitoring.

A copy of the consultation report is available on our website.

Final outcomes from the consultation are expected to be announced in the coming weeks once the fishery working group and Sustainable Fisheries Independent Expert Panel have met.

Quotes attributable the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:

“We’re announcing there will be additional gillnet-free zones to give as much certainty to commercial fishers and communities as we can while we work through the remaining issues,” Mr Furner said.

“These net-free zones fulfil commitments made by the Australian Government that are supported by the Queensland Government.

“We’re committed to a sustainable seafood industry in Queensland and that means a sustainable industry supporting good jobs in the Gulf region.

“That’s why we’re ensuring an industry structural adjustment and assistance program specific to the commercial inshore fishery in the Gulf.”

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