THE Queensland Government recently released a draft policy and guideline to support the roll-out of vessel tracking on all commercial fishing boats.
Fisheries Queensland Director of Operations Mark Doohan said the department was seeking feedback around the rules and scenarios that commercial fishers would need to follow, starting from the end of 2018. “Vessel tracking is part of a larger effort to help us make better decisions to ensure our fish stocks remain sustainable into the future,” he said. “Vessel tracking will be required on all crab, net and line boats by the end of 2018, and all other commercial and charter boats are to have it in place by 2020. The government is committed to working with industry to ensure the policy and guidelines are practical and achievable for smaller inshore boats. We are encouraging commercial fishers to have their say before February 23, 2018 when the feedback will be reviewed and the policy and guidelines finalised. Film and education resources are available to help commercial fishers understand the purpose of vessel tracking and some of the benefits to industry.”
Fisheries Queensland staff will be visiting regional centres in January and February 2018 to listen to commercial fishers. Visit the vessel tracking page at fisheries.qld.gov.au to book a time to speak to a Fisheries representative during the regional visits. Mr Doohan said vessel tracking was not new and had been in place in some Queensland fisheries for more than 15 years.
“It’s important that commercial fishers understand why vessel tracking is a positive step for their industry and the overall benefits to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries resources,” he said. North Queensland commercial fisher Richard Taylor said vessel tracking brought a number of benefits. “We would not be trawling in a world heritage area without a doubt, without vessel tracking,” he said.
Fisheries Queensland is currently trialling three new vessel tracking units that are smaller, more portable and more affordable than older units used in the trawl fishery. Mr Doohan said one vessel tracking unit being trialled was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and could be easily moved between vessels.
“With technological advances, the size and cost of vessel tracking units has reduced significantly compared to when they were first introduced in Queensland’s trawl fishery in the 1990s,” he said. The cost of one unit is about $200, with monthly data costs of around $30-$40. About $2 million has been set aside to help subsidise the costs to industry. An approved list of units available to fishers to buy will be available in early 2018, along with the subsidy scheme’s details.”
The introduction of vessel tracking on all Queensland commercial fishing boats is one of the reforms under the Queensland Government’s $20 million Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. The vessel tracking policy, guideline and film are available online at fisheries.qld.gov.au or you can call 13 25 23 for more information. The latest fisheries information is also available on social media at twitter.com/fisheriesQLD or Facebook at facebook.com/FisheriesQueensland