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Tension flaring on commercial fishing and sustainability

A catch of mullet in a commercial fisherman’s nets.
A catch of mullet in a commercial fisherman’s nets. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

TENSION between commercial and recreational fishing groups has again been in the spotlight with the release of a fishing population report.

The commercial fishing industry says the report shows fish populations continue to be sustainable but the Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance says the report is "flawed" and was little more than a "desktop exercise".

The Federal Government, along with Queensland Agriculture and Fisheries Department, released data which assessed 36 nationally important species for 2014.

Many species on Queensland's East Coast, including tiger prawns, Spanish mackerel and barramundi were listed as sustainable. But others, including snapper and red emperor, were listed as "undefined", which meant there was insufficient information.

Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance chairman Scott Mitchell said he did not believe it was an accurate report of fish species health, because it was not based on proper population counts in the field. He said recreational fishers had noticed a steady decline in local fish stocks because of commercial netting.

Hervey Bay Seafood Festival Association president Elaine Lewthwaite said the reports showed stocks were continually managed, maintained and were sustainable.

For the Fraser Coast, she said it was like a report card saying local fishing was sustainable.

"I think it's good news for all fishers, not just commercial, to know the stocks are sustainable and it means the stock is there for the future as well."

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE?

Barramundi, dusky flathead, grey mackerel, sand whiting, sea mullet, stout whiting, yellowfin bream, tiger prawn, Moreton Bay bugs listed as "sustainable" species in 2014.

Crimson snapper, mulloway, murray cod, red emperor, snapper, yellowtail kingfish and school prawn were "undefined" (not enough information to determine their status).

Topics:  commercial fishing recreational fishing sustainability



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