State Govt slammed for black jewfish catch limit changes
QUEENSLAND Senator Susan McDonald has slammed the State Government's approach to commercial take of black jewfish after a recently mandated annual 20-tonne catch limit was reached in just two months.
Queensland Fisheries last year classified black jewfish as "overfished" but commercial fishermen caught so many of the species this year that they reached the 20-tonne figure in the first week of March.
Now any incidental catches of black jewfish - both commercial and recreational - are to be thrown back.
"I've been told that up to 100 tonnes of black jewfish were caught some years, mostly as bycatch by fishers targeting other estuarine species," Ms McDonald said.
"But the biggest travesty is that any black jewfish caught from now until next year must be thrown back as shark food rather than sold to feed families.
"No one wants unregulated fishing, but regulations must be based on solid foundations and measurable outcomes, not some arbitrary wave of a pen based on assumptions and ideological agendas.
"The State Government is ensuring perfectly good table fish are thrown away rather than allowing incidental catches to be sold."
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said in May 2019, the Queensland Government introduced a total allowable catch limit of 20 tonnes for Black jewfish.
"The limit was introduced in response to rapidly escalating catches of the species and concerns about sustainability," Mr Furner said.
"Black jewfish are vulnerable to overfishing and there is a risk of black-marketing due to the extremely high market prices for their swim bladders.
"Stock collapses have been previously seen in Australia and overseas so we have taken management action to protect this resource and its long-term economic viability."