10 May 2023

Have your say on the future of mackerel fishing

| Matt Nicholls
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THE state government says it has moved to protect fishing jobs and give Queenslanders a say on future management of Spanish mackerel stocks.

From tomorrow (Wednesday), the government is seeking input from recreational and commercial fishers on the management of the Spanish mackerel fishery to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said no decision had been made at this time and he wanted to hear from all fishers on what management action should be taken.

“The science tells us that Spanish mackerel stocks are at historically low levels, and action is needed to rebuild the stocks of this iconic fish, which is an important commercial species and a way of life for many recreational fishers” Mr Furner said.

“The recent stock assessment, which has been independently reviewed, concluded the estimated biomass is below the nationally recognised limit reference point level of 20 per cent.

“Doing nothing is not an option and, in line with our Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027, management action is required to rebuild the stock to sustainable levels.”

Mr Furner said possible management actions that could be taken include a reduction in recreational and commercial catch limits, an increase in the legal minimum size and closed seasons or areas to protect schooling mackerel.

“We cannot protect the jobs that depend on Spanish mackerel unless we support the recovery of Spanish mackerel stocks,” he said.

“If there is no fish there are no fishing jobs, so I will do everything I can to restore these stocks so these jobs can have a future for decades to come.”

Mr Furner said some jurisdictions, such as Victoria and South Australia, require recreational fishers to report their catch of key species such as southern rock lobster and snapper.

“We are also seeking comments on a proposal to require recreational fishers to report all Spanish mackerel they keep,” he said.

“We promised that we would consult before these decisions were made, and the time has come for people to have their say.”

Mr Furner said the overwhelming feedback from previous fisheries reforms was that stakeholders wanted reform in Queensland fisheries.

“We will carefully consider all feedback before final decisions are made on management actions ahead of the 2022 fishing season, commencing on July 1,” he said.

“This is all about sustainability and making sure we have Spanish Mackerel for the future, including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“Our fisheries resources are not infinite, and we need to manage them in a way that ensures future generations will enjoy the same access that we do.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition says the state government has been dragged kicking and screaming to open consultation about the future of the Spanish mackerel fishery.

“Finally, after relentless pressure from the LNP, commercial and recreational fishers will have the opportunity for their voice to be heard,” MP Tony Perrett said as the LNP’s spokesperson for fisheries.

“The admission by Minister Mark Furner that he got it wrong follows increased pressure on the state government to detail information surrounding stock assessments and data collection.

“It also follows claims of flawed data collection and significant public backlash.

“The Minister’s admission is overdue.

“Decisions made by the Palaszczuk government must be evidence based and rely on data that is collected in an open and transparent manner.

“The LNP will continue to fight for transparency and openness on behalf of Queenslanders who deserve a lot better than this.”

Queenslanders wanting to have their say should visit https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/spanish-mackerel-2022

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