Hardy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Tourism Australia
Hardy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Tourism Australia

21 illegal fishing offences in three weeks off Gladstone

AN INTENSIVE three-week reef blitz targeting anglers fishing illegally off Gladstone's shore resulted in 21 offences being detected.

The blitz from late March to mid April was part of a broader no-tolerance stance against poachers, helping protect the Great Barrier Reef against mounting pressures.

Of the 21 offences, 13 were for poaching in no-take green zones, three for fishing in the Scientific Research (orange) zone at One Tree Island and five related to fishing with excess lines in a Conservation Park (yellow) zone.

It was the highest number of offences along the Queensland coast during the reef-wide blitz, with ten offences detected in Mackay, four in Cairns and Cooktown and seven in the Townsville and Whitsundays regions.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority field management assistant director Andrew Simpson said the anglers had no excuse for their actions.

"We heavily promoted our no-tolerance approach to poaching to ensure fishers were aware patrols would be on the water and in the air day and night, particularly during the holiday period," Mr Simpson said.

Mr Simpson said the latest blitz centred on known non-compliance hotspots and included reef-wide patrols during the Easter school holidays.

The crack down on illegal fishing will continue this weekend while thousands of people drop a line to take part in the Boyne Tannum HookUp.

Fisheries officers will use helicopter and aerial surveillance, in addition to regular sea compliance patrols during the event.

"We want people to enjoy their time in the marine parks, but ensure they understand that everyone has a responsibility to help protect the Great Barrier Reef," Mr Simpson said.

Mr Simpson reminded fishers free zoning maps are available at bait and tackle shops, information centres, the Marine Park Authority and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers, or by calling 47500700.

To report suspected illegal fishing phone 1800380048.