Fisher the first to be banned from Barrier Reef under rule
A COMMERCIAL fisher has become the first person to be banned from fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under 'three strikes' legislation.
The direction was issued by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) after the fisher was convicted of three separate offences over five years of fishing in a no-take green zone.
Under the 'three strikes' provision in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, GBRMPA can ban a person from entering or using the Marine Park, or impose conditions, where a person has been convicted of at least three offences under the Act within the past decade.
The provision was included in the Act in 2008, and failure to comply with a direction can attract a fine of up to $85,000.
Field management director Richard Quincey said the agency had directed the fisher not to engage in commercial or recreational fishing in the Marine Park for a period of two years.
"This penalty emphasises the importance that's placed on protecting no-take areas and the seriousness of these illegal fishing offences," Mr Quincey said.
"We place a lot of emphasis on education and encouraging people to comply with the zoning rules, meaning fishers who are intentionally targeting green zones are letting down those who do abide by the rules.
"Commercial operators who are doing the right thing understand that sustainable fishing is important from a business perspective and for the future of the fisheries resource itself.
"When illegal fishing occurs, it can have a very real impact on the broader marine ecosystem, because no-take zones play a critical role in protecting and conserving biodiversity, including supplying fish for the future.
"For our zoning arrangements to continue being effective, reef users need to be aware of and comply with the rules.
"As this case shows, if people choose to repeatedly breach those rules, then they can face a stiff penalty."
Green zones make up about 33 per cent of the Marine Park. Research shows they are effective in protecting habitat, with flow-on benefits for key fisheries species such as coral trout, which are detected in increased abundance and size in these areas.
Extractive activities like fishing or collecting are not allowed without a permit within green zones, however they are open to activities such as boating, swimming, snorkelling and sailing.
Suspected illegal fishing can be reported to GBRMPA via an online reporting form at www.gbrmpa.gov.au.