The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia today welcomed the Queensland LNP’s policy announcement of a $6 million voluntary buyback scheme prioritising the purchase of gill net licences operating in the far northern Great Barrier Reef.
“This section of the Reef is an incredible ecosystem, whose waters support one of the world’s largest populations of dugongs as well as turtles, inshore dolphins, sawfish and endangered sharks.
“These threatened species can easily become entangled in gill nets and drown.
“The LNP plan would create a globally significant refuge for the Reef’s precious marine wildlife,” said WWF-Australia Sustainable Fisheries spokesperson Simon Miller.
“Any protection measures in the northern Great Barrier Reef must include co-management with Traditional Owners reflecting their knowledge and connection to their Sea Country.
“WWF-Australia has long advocated for the creation of a Net-Free North by removing gill nets from just north of Cooktown through to the Torres Strait.
“With the help of our supporters WWF has purchased and retired three gill net licences in the Great Barrier Reef, including one operating in the far northern section,” Mr Miller said.
He said WWF was also keen to learn more about the LNP’s $1 million pledge to develop a new ‘ReefSafe’ fisheries label in Queensland.
Many additional improvements in Queensland’s fisheries management are required in order for such a label to be valid and be supported.
“WWF calls on the Queensland Labor Party and other parties to provide details on their future funding for Queensland Fisheries reform and their plans to protect the magnificent marine wildlife of the far northern Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Miller said.