Pros given access to QLD marine park

COMMERCIAL beam trawl fishers in Queensland’s Burnett River region will now be able to access fishing areas previously closed to fishing as part of a new government trial.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said flooding in the Burnett River earlier this year has meant fishers can no longer fish there effectively.

“Changes to the riverbed and general flood debris continue to impede commercial fishers accessing the area,” McVeigh said.

“To help beam trawl fishers get back in business, the Newman Government has approved a trial opening of additional beam trawl fishing areas, as well as removal of the existing beam trawl seasonal closure in the Burnett River (from 31 August to 1 November).

“The removal of the seasonal closure will see equal access to the resource for both recreational and commercial fishers.

“The new fishing area is within the General Use Zone of the Great Sandy Marine Park between the northern bank of the Burnett River and the northern boundary at Rules Beach.

“These changes to fishing access would be for a trial period of two years, after which it will be reviewed based on the condition of the river and feasibility.”

Local commercial beam trawler Reid Dick said the new fishing areas are a positive announcement.

“The floods really affected the areas in which I could fish, so extending the access will certainly help my business,” Mr Dick said.

McVeigh said these changes do come with certain conditions to minimise impact on species of conservation interest as well as recreational fishing.

“Due to the new area being located near the Mon Repos turtle rookery, it will be mandatory for beam trawlers to install compliant turtle excluder devices in their nets,” he said.

“Beam trawl fishing and all other netting will remain prohibited in the town reach of the river (from the junction with Bundaberg Creek upstream to the western tip of Harriett Island), to allow for resource sharing with recreational fishing.

“There are currently six beam trawl licence holders in Bundaberg, supplying banana, greasyback and school prawns to the local community and interstate.

“It’s important that we support local business, and do what we can to get them back on their feet.”

To access the new fishing areas, commercial fishers will need to apply for a permit from Fisheries Queensland. No fees will apply.

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