Spike in ‘black market’ activity triggers ban

BLACK market fishers have been targeted by state government plans to ban shellfish collection across Moreton Bay.

It comes after the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) admitted the issue had become out of control last November.

It also follows a campaign led by state LNP MP for Pumicestone Simone Wilson and Sandstone Point residents.

DAF issued 74 infringement notices and fines of $19,386 for unlawful collecting of molluscs near Sandstone Point alone last year - 50 of those infringements and $14,094 of fines came after July 1.

Shellfish collection in Moreton Bay will soon be made illegal.
Shellfish collection in Moreton Bay will soon be made illegal.

After a three-month survey of local fishers, Minister for Fisheries Mark Furner has announced he will pass a bill prohibiting the collection of gastropods and bivalve molluscs across Moreton Bay. This excludes pipis.

The ban is expected to come in to force within weeks.

Ms Wilson is hailing the move as a win for local marine life.

"Droves of people regularly come to collect shellfish well in excess of the legal limits," she said.

"Our precious marine life was a risk of being completely depleted if something was done to stop it.

"I thank the members of my community who have advocated strongly for the preservation of marine life in Pumicestone."

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers with a haul of shellfish. PICTURE: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers with a haul of shellfish. PICTURE: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

The state government passed a bill late last month to make illegal trafficking of certain species an indictable offence and it handed greater powers to fisheries officers.

The bill brings Queensland in line with other states by establishing a maximum penalty of up to 3000 penalty units (currently $391,650) or three years imprisonment.

It also allows officers to inspect commercial businesses and suspicious vehicles without a warrant.

Mr Furner claimed the opposition had proposed a number of amendments to water down these powers.

"Ms Wilson is trying to claim credit just weeks after voting to support a failed LNP amendment that would have given black marketers a five-day get-out-of-jail free card to dodge fisheries officers," he said.

"Further announcements on Moreton Bay closures can be expected in coming weeks."

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