Two Russell Island residents who were caught illegally cutting up and burning protected marine plants have been fined $2,668. Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district officer Chris Watts said fisheries officers caught the offenders red-handed in a rapid response to a complaint to the Fishwatch hotline.
“Fisheries inspectors observed them cutting mangroves with a chainsaw and throwing them onto a fire, with up to 25 square metres of marine plants affected,” he said.
“All marine plants, including mangroves are protected by law in Queensland and a permit is required for operational works involving their removal, damage or destruction.
“In this case, there was no permit to carry out assessable development under the Planning Act 2016.
“Fisheries Infringement Notices were issued to the two residents, with fines of $1,334 each.”
Mr Watts said Illegally damaging or destroying marine plants can have a lasting impact on Queensland’s fisheries resources.
“Healthy tidal fish habitats are important for the animals that live there and any loss of mangroves will have a flow-on effect to fish and crab populations,” he said.
“Even minor disturbance to marine plants can have a cumulative effect, leading to a long-term decline in local fish production and general aquatic health.”
The protection of all marine plants in Queensland including mangroves, seagrass, salt couch and samphires applies on private, leasehold and public lands regardless of whether the plants are alive or dead.
Unacceptable damage to marine plants and habitat includes:
- removal, trimming or lopping for views or other aesthetic reasons
- spraying with herbicide
- reclaiming tidal lands to extend lawns or gardens
- burning or mowing salt couch or mangroves
- dumping rubbish or waste on tidal lands.
Mr Watts said Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol can issue on-the-spot fines of $1,334 for damaging marine plants and habitats, and penalties of up to $598,500 may apply in cases which are prosecuted in court.
Everyone is encouraged to help protect marine plants and report any damage to the 24 hour, toll-free Fishwatch hotline 1800 017 116.
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