CORAL reef fin fish in Queensland will be off limits from midnight this Tuesday 1 October, as part of the first of two annual closures that protect these fish during spawning season.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol acting district manager Geoff Fergusson said the closures were vital to protect fish at an important time in their life cycle.
“Closed seasons are vital to allow stocks to replenish to ensure there are healthy fish stores for current and future generations of Queensland fishers.
"After an extensive scientific review, two five-day closures each year for five years were announced in October 2009 to provide certainty and long-term planning for fishers," he said.
“This year, the first closure will run from midnight 1 October to midnight 6 October and the second from midnight 30 October to midnight 4 November.
Mr Fergusson said the dates for the closures changed each year depending on the new moon phases.
"The closures coincide with the new moon when key coral reef fish species aggregate to spawn,” he said.
"October and November have been found to be months of high effectiveness for closures to protect coral reef fin fish, particularly the key target species.
"Tropical snapper and other coral reef fin fish may be more susceptible to concentrated fishing when spawning and these closures help ensure the sustainability of the fishery.
"Fishers need to remember that they should not take and possess coral reef fin fish species during the closure period.
“Coral reef fin fish include cods and groupers, emperors, parrotfishes, sweetlips, wrasses, coral trout, fusiliers, surgeonfishes, tropical snappers and seaperches.
“A reef fish web guide is available online at www.fisheries.qld.gov.au to help fishers identify fish listed as coral reef fin fish.
Mr Fergusson said the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol will be conducting regular patrols during the school holidays to remind fishers of the closures.
“Recreational fishers caught doing the wrong thing during the coral reef fin fish closure risk an on-the-spot fine of $440 and a maximum penalty of $110,000.”
The closures are in place from the northern tip of Cape York to Bundaberg in the south (the southern boundary is at latitude 24º50'S).
The eastern boundary of the closure is the same as the eastern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.