New boat targets illegal fishing on Barrier Reef

A FASTER, smaller and harder to identify patrol vessel will curb illegal recreational fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Southern Great Barrier Reef principal ranger David Orgill said the boat, Karamea, launched this week, would ensure fishers were complying with zoning laws in Capricornia.

The Karamea cruises at 24 knots and has a top speed of more than 40 knots.

"It's providing quicker access, it's a tool that allows any non-compliance to be found a lot easier," Mr Orgill said.

"Some of the boats that we do have are slower and larger, so they're more obvious from a distance… This vessel looks like any recreational boat."

The $555,722 vessel, based at Gladstone, was funded by both State and Federal governments and has replaced Bimbie Eungie, which was at the end of its useful life.

The Karamea will patrol the Capricornia region, reaching as far north as the Whitsunday islands.

Mr Orgill said the most common type of illegal activity on the reef was fishing in the wrong zones.

"(It's mostly) people who are line fishing or trawling through green zones," he said. "We get the odd person spearing in the conservation zones where they shouldn't be."

Mr Orgill said with barramundi season starting yesterday, there would be more recreational fishing in the region.

"Working with Queensland Fishing and Boating Patrol, we do do some additional patrolling in certain areas," he said.

Yet while most barramundi fishing is inshore, the Karamea will generally operate 50 nautical miles offshore.

The Karamea is one of the two newest boats in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service's joint 21-boat fleet.

"It's quite an improvement from the previous vessel. The whole shape is different, the technology on board is different," Mr Orgill said.


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