DEADLINE: Coral reef fin fish will be off limits from today as breeding season approaches.
DEADLINE: Coral reef fin fish will be off limits from today as breeding season approaches. Contributed

Deadline approaching as reef fish ban takes hold

Coral reef fin fish will be off limits from today, as the first of two annual closures that protect these fish during spawning season commences.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district officer Tony Loader 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,” he said.

"This year, the first closure starts immediately after midnight at the beginning of October 28 and ends immediately before midnight at the end of November 1,” Mr Loader said.

"The second closure starts immediately after midnight at the beginning of November 26 and ends immediately before midnight at the end of November 30.

"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.

"These dates are available at www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or in the Queensland Recreational Boating and Fishing Guide which is a free publication for fishers available at QBFP branches statewide or by calling 132523.”

Mr Loader said a reef fish web guide is available online at www.fisheries.qld.gov.au to help fishers identify fish listed as coral reef fin fish.

"Coral reef fin fish include cods and groupers, emperors, parrotfishes, sweetlips, wrasses, coral trout, fusiliers, surgeonfishes, tropical snappers and sea perches,” he said.

"The coral reef fin fish closures apply to both commercial and recreational fishers. Charter operators who meeting qualifying criteria can apply for an exemption.

"It's important fishers are aware of which species are affected by the closure and know how to correctly identify them.

"Fishers caught doing the wrong thing during the coral reef fin fish closure risk on-the-spot fines of $487 for recreational fishers and $975 for commercial fishers and a maximum penalty in excess of $121,000.”

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.

Gympie Times


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