Over-harvesting sees Queensland govt consider shellfish collecting closure

The Queensland Government will consider closing Moreton Bay to shellfish collecting after the move was recommended by scientists and fishermen.

FISHING INSPECTORS: A state government officer wearing a body camera inspects a shellfish catch from Moreton Bay.

FISHING INSPECTORS: A state government officer wearing a body camera inspects a shellfish catch from Moreton Bay.

The closure would apply apply to mud welks, cockles and mud arks but not pipis or worms, with the government seeking public feedback before any moves are taken.

Fisheries Queensland executive director Claire Andersen said illegal over-fishing had reached a  serious level, particularly at Sandstone Point, near the southern end of Bribie Island.

“This year, 74 fisheries infringement notices with fines of $19,386 have been issued for unlawful collecting of molluscs at Sandstone Point,” Ms Andersen said.

“Fisheries officers have made considerable effort to educate the community about the fishing rules for molluscs and the importance of only taking a small number but people are still not fishing by the rules.

“Gastropods and bivalve mollusc species are highly susceptible to depletion because they remain in one place and can be easily accessed in fishing grounds close to urban centres.

“The Moreton Bay fishery working group and the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel have both recommended Moreton Bay be closed to shellfish collecting due to the ongoing lack of compliance and concerns about sustainability.”

Ms Andersen said the government was considering the closure option and feedback from fishers and members of the public was being sought.

“The closure would not apply to pipis or worms, and would only apply to bivalve molluscs and gastropods such as mud welks, cockles and mud arks,” she said.

“People can submit a response to an online survey by 6 January 2019 at surveymonkey.com/r/CMQZYDN.

“In the meantime, I urge fishers at Sandstone Point to fish by the current rules to ensure shellfish stocks are protected for future generations of Queenslanders.

“There is a possession limit of 50 bivalve molluscs per person, including molluscs previously collected but not yet eaten.”

Bond University scientists Daryl McPhee has also raised concerns about the level of impacts from high numbers of 4WDs on creatures like pipis and soldier crabs on places like North Stradbroke Island’s ocean beach.

Conservationists also have complained about 4WD impacts on foreshore birds on Fraser Island. 

For more information on Queensland fishing rules visit fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free Qld Fishing app from Apple and Google app stores.