Print

Rules change in Bowling Green Bay to help dugongs

Amendments to commercial netting rules under the Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004 have been introduced to support the protection of dugong within the Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area.

Netting restrictions have been in place under the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park legislation since 2011 to address concerns about the level of unsustainable dugong mortalities in the area. The changes were developed through the initiative of local fishers as part of the Burdekin Regional Management Project, to reduce the risk of incidental catch of dugong in commercial mesh nets. The new State netting restrictions ensures these measures now extend over adjacent intertidal areas at the southern boundary of the ‘Restricted Netting Area’. This ensures complementary marine park rules extend from the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundary at low water to the landward boundary of the State marine park at the high water mark. These changes do not extend to into any creeks or inlets.

You can find out more about the netting rules.

Any questions regarding the changes to commercial netting should be emailed to Marine.Policy@des.qld.gov.au, or see the frequently asked questions below.

What are the changes?

The map on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Information Sheet describing netting rules in Bowling Green Bay shows the two defined areas where commercial net fishing rules apply in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. These rules have been in place since 2011 to support dugong conservation in Bowling Green Bay. The introduction of these rules was in response to community and government concerns about unsustainable levels of dugong deaths in the area.

The objective of the Queensland legislative changes is to adopt complementary Commonwealth and State netting restrictions in Bowling Green Bay by extending the ‘Restricted Netting Area’ requirements over intertidal areas to further support dugong conservation.

As part of the changes the southern boundary of the ‘Restricted Netting Area’ (which stopped at low water) has now been extended over adjacent intertidal areas of the State marine park. These changes do not apply in internal waters (creeks and inlets) adjacent to the “Restricted Netting Area”.

Amendments were made to the Queensland Marine Parks (Great Barrier Reef Coast) Zoning Plan 2004.

What netting restrictions apply?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority information sheet titled “For commercial net fishermen about netting changes in Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area” provides details on the location of the netting restrictions and what rules apply within the Restricted Netting Area and No Netting (other than bait netting) Area.

This information sheet can be found on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

The Restricted Netting Area requirements now extend over adjacent intertidal areas. These rules extend from low water to the high water mark. These requirements do not apply within internal waters (creeks and inlets) adjacent to the Restricted Netting Area.

Why have these changes been made?

The extension of the Restricted Netting Area rules in Bowling Green Bay over intertidal areas supports legislation previously introduced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the initiatives of the Burdekin Sustainable Fisheries Alliance to protect dugong in the area. This action was initiated following concerns about unsustainable levels of dugong deaths in the area.

Dugong populations in Queensland are under pressure from human activities and extreme weather events have impacted critical seagrass habitat and food resources.

With the Queensland Government extending the Restricted Netting Area rules over intertidal areas greater protection is afforded to dugongs, and compliance and dugong protection actions in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan are supported.

Who is affected by the new rules?

The new State netting restrictions will complement those already in place under the Australian Government Great Barrier Reef Marine Park legislation. The State rules will only affect commercial net fishers who operate over intertidal areas adjacent to the existing Great Barrier Reef Marine Park ‘Restricted Netting Area’.

What does this mean for commercial net fishers?

Commercial net fishers looking to operate over intertidal areas within the Bowling Green Bay Restricted Netting Area need to make sure they are familiar with the rules and use correct fishing gear. The ‘Restricted Netting Area’ rules over intertidal areas are consistent with those introduced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2011.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority information sheet titled “For commercial net fishermen about netting changes in Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area” provides details on the location of the netting restrictions and what rules apply.

It is important that you know where you are, and what the rules are for that area, otherwise you risk getting a fine for illegal fishing.

How will the changes affect other fishing in Bowling Green Bay?

The new netting restrictions will only affect commercial net fishers operating over intertidal areas within the Bowling Green Bay Restricted Netting Area. All other recreational activities and other forms of commercial fishing rules remain unchanged. It is essential that all activities and commercial fishing operations are still carried out in accordance with Marine Park and fisheries legislation.

Where can I find further information?