Cairns net-free fishing zone performing well

There are promising signs for recreational fishing in the Cairns region in the latest report card on how Queensland’s net-free fishing zones are performing.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy says recreational fishers are increasingly happy with the net-free zone and in some cases are catching bigger fish.

“The full benefits of the net-free zones introduced in November 2015 will take time to emerge, but we’re already seeing some positive changes,” Mr Healy said.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the number of fish caught has not increased in the Mackay or Cairns net-free zones, but recreational fishers reported an increasing level of satisfaction.

The report, Performance of Queensland’s net-free zones, also shows that more fishers are travelling to fish at Rockhampton and the number of trailers counted at boat ramps in all their zones has remained steady.

Mr Furner said surveys were done at boat ramps and tackle shops from 2015-18 to assess:

• if fishing effort had increased;

• whether important recreational fish species were larger and more commonly caught;

• if fishers travelled further to fish the net-free zones; and

• if recreational fishers’ satisfaction and expectations of fishing in the net-free zones had changed over time.

“The net-free zones were a key initiative in Queensland’s commitment to the Reef2050 Plan and were introduced to increase recreational fishing opportunities in regional centres and support tourism and economic growth,” Mr Furner said.

“To achieve flow-on benefits from the net-free zones, fishers need to be satisfied with their fishing trips and this depends on them catching more target species.

Mr Furner said the effects of the net-free zones on recreational fishing catches will vary between regions, environmental factors such as floods and drought, and the reproductive and migratory capabilities of the targeted fish and their prey.

“We are building a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren,” Mr Furner said.

“Fisheries Queensland will continue to monitor fishing in the net-free zones to measure recreational fisher satisfaction and the species, number and size of fish caught.”

To download the report or for more information about Queensland’s net-free fishing zones, visit or call 13 25 23.

Follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@FisheriesQld).

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