Cairns trawler skip­per fined over green zone

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

A CAIRNS prawn trawler op­er­a­tor has been fined $15,000 for fish­ing in a green zone in the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park af­ter a mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem tracked the ves­sel’s move­ments.

The Cairns Mag­is­trates Court con­victed the op­er­a­tor af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the op­er­a­tor had trawled near Look­out Point off Cooktown in June 2015.

The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Au­thor­ity in­ves­ti­gated the case un­der the Great Bar­rier Marine Park Act 1975 which pro­hibits fish­ing in green zone (no-take) ar­eas.

Field man­age­ment di­rec­tor Richard Quincey said the sub­stan­tial fine im­posed by the court in­di­cated the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence.

“Green zones are in place for a good rea­son, and that’s to pro­tect the biodiversity of the marine park — which is par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal in the wake of the co­ral bleach­ing ,” Mr Quincey said.

“What this case highlights is that we have a range of tools at our dis­posal, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing lev­els of tech­nol­ogy that al­low us to col­lect the ev­i­dence we need to pros­e­cute those who ig­nore the rules.

“In this case, the ves­sel mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, op­er­ated by the Queens­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries on trawlers, en­abled us to track the move­ments of the ves­sel at reg­u­lar points.”

Mr Quincey said re­duc­ing il­le­gal fish­ing in the Marine Park was a high pri­or­ity for the agency and that it would con­tinue to use a va­ri­ety of strate­gies.

“One of the real ben­e­fits of the mon­i­tor­ing tech­nol­ogy is that we have the means to in­crease the level of track­ing if there is sus­pi­cion of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity,” he said.

“This and other types of sur­veil­lance, as well as field op­er­a­tions, in­tel­li­gence and strong co­or­di­na­tion be­tween var­i­ous agen­cies, means we are able to con­tin­u­ally hone our op­er­a­tions to catch of­fend­ers in the act.”

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