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Commercial Fishing

In 1994 the total commercial catch of all marine species in Queensland amounted to approximately 21,672 tonne. This was made up of:

  • 10,726 tonne of crustacean
  • 5,883 tonne of prawns (shrimp)
  • 9,824 tonne fish
  • 1,122 tonne molluscs

The commercial fishing sector is the fifth largest primary producer in Queensland, worth $175 million a year to the economy when valued at prices paid to the fishers at the wharves. Of this, $143 million is earned from product caught in the Great Barrier Reef Region. Much of this, particularly prawns, scallops and live fish, is exported.

Commercial fishing is broken down into different areas:

Trawling: Currently about 800 boats are licenced to fish for prawns and scallops with otter trawl gear in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In addition 210 boats are licensed to fish for prawns in inshore and estuarine water with beam trawl gear, but most of this takes place outside the Great Barrier Reef.

Crab Fishing: Commercial fisheries for crustaceans, other than prawns, are worth about 17 million a year in Queensland. Crabs may be specifically targeted or may be taken as part of a mixed fishing operation. Crabs species targeted are Mud Crabs, Blue Swimmer and Spanner Crabs.

Line Fishing: There are approximately 240 licensed operators to the principal Great Barrier Reef Line Fishery while approximately 1470 license holders have more limited access to those stocks. This is most commonly done using hand lines and vessels are limited to 6 baited hooks.

Live Fish Export: The Chinese and Japanese believe that, apart from the better flavour, eating freshly killed fish is good for the health and a long life. And for this privilege they pay an extremely high price.

Net Fishing: About 1400 tonnes of finfish are caught commercially in shore waters each year. Restrictions on fishing include fish size limits, seasonal closures on some species, and type of gear. There is concern over incidental capture of turtles, dugongs and dolphins. This subject is constantly causing turmoil and changes and restrictions are currently still being discussed.

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Diving Cairns - The ultimate guide to a diving holiday on North Queensland's Great Barrier Reef