The Northern Territory Government is implementing a suite of new management measures to rebuild ‘at risk’ reef fish populations to sustainable levels and improve the quality of fishing into the future.
Scientific evidence shows that golden snapper and black jewfish are being overfished and the sustainability of other popular reef fish is under threat in the Darwin area.
Following an extensive consultation period with key stakeholders, the new management responses have been decided and all fishing sectors, including the commercial and fishing tour operators, will undergo significant changes.
Most fishers would be familiar with the use of possession and size limits as standard management tools to control recreational fishing catches. They protect fish stocks by restricting the number or size of a fish that can be taken.
For recreational anglers in the NT there is a reduction of the general possession limit (GPL) from 30 fish to 15. This GPL still provides a generous quantity of fish to feed the family, whilst also ensuring fishing remains at sustainable levels.
New specific limits for a number of individual species have also been introduced.
• A reduction in the personal possession limit (PPL) for golden snapper from 5 to 3.
• A combined PPL of 10 red snapper(all species, within the GPL of 15 fish).
• A minimum size for mangrove jack of 35cm (total length).
• A vessel limit of one barramundi over 90cm (overall length) in the Daly and Mary River fish management zones.
• A vessel limit of one king threadfin over 90cm (fork length) taken in the Daly and Mary River fish management zones.
• A possession limit of 5 fish per species unless otherwise specified.
As well as the changes to general and personal possession limits, there is a new two-tiered vessel limit which will help to reduce catches of ‘at-risk’ reef fish by boats carrying large numbers of fishers.
• Vessels with 4 or fewer people on board, each person can take their personal possession limit.
• Vessels with 5 to 7 people on board can take a maximum of 4 times the personal possession limit of designated “at risk” species. The balance of the GPL can be made up of other fish.
• Vessels with 8 or more people on board can take a maximum of 8 times the personal possession limit of designated “at risk” species. The balance of the GPL can be made up of other fish.
The final management response was to establish 5 temporary reef fish protection areas across the greater Darwin area to protect current stocks and support the recovery of “at-risk” reef fish species including golden snapper and black jewfish.
Some of the areas protect known healthy populations of reef fish, while others will allow reefs that have been depleted by overfishing to recover. There will be no recreational fishing of any form allowed within these areas. Fishers may traverse through a protected area provided no lines or rods are rigged for the purpose of fishing and the vessel is making way.
For more information on the changes to recreational fishing rules visit the NT fisheries website at www.fisheries.nt.gov.au