Summer blitz catches out illegal fishing


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Green Island was a hot spot for illegal fishing over Christmas. IMAGE: Supplied.

A SUMMER blitz has resulted in 48 incidents of illegal recreational fishing across the Great Barrier Reef Marina Park.

Aerial patrols over the Christmas break caught out a host of dodgy fishing activities, with 17 incidences between Cairns and Cooktown. Hotspots including Scott Reef, Michaelmas Reef and Green Island.

Most occurred between 10 December 2016 and 22 January 2017 and related to illegal line fishing and spearfishing in restricted or no-take zones from the Daintree in the north to the Capricorn Bunker reefs off Gladstone in the south.

Reports from the public contributed to some interceptions, including an incident at the WWII Catalina aircraft wreck south-east of Cairns, which is in a highly protected green zone and is further safeguarded by a special management area to preserve its heritage values.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Field Management director Richard Quincey said upholding compliance was an important priority for the Authority, particularly given some Marine Park users continued to ignore the rules. The compliance focus on recreational fishing will continue to be strengthened in 2017.

“Welcoming people to the Marine Park is an important part of what we do, however there is no excuse for not knowing and following the rules,” Quincey said.

“Our compliance patrols run day and night. If you fish in a protected zone you will get caught and face an $1800 fine.”

Quincey said there was strong evidence to show zoning contributed to healthy fish stocks and the overall health of the Reef.