BE CAREFUL: Fisherman have been urged to know their fishing rules to reduce the risk of being fined.
BE CAREFUL: Fisherman have been urged to know their fishing rules to reduce the risk of being fined. Contributed

Four-fold increase in fishing offences

TARGETED compliance patrols in high-risk areas of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area have detected a four-fold increase in recreational fishing offences over three years.

In 2014-15, 538 recreational fishing offences were reported, representing the highest annual number recorded.

The offences were among 1161 reported breaches of Commonwealth and state laws in the World Heritage Area for the year, covering a variety of offences.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority general manager of Great Barrier Reef operations Richard Quincey said the vast bulk were zoning breaches by recreational fishers.

"About 99 per cent of the recreational fishing offences relate to line fishing and spearfishing in protected areas such as green and yellow zones," Mr Quincey said.

"We've also seen more fishers intentionally target shipwrecks and shoals in green zones at night.

"In response, we've increased our night-time vessel and aircraft patrols of high-risk locations and during high risk periods, resulting in multiple detections of illegal fishing activity.

"We're also looking into more advanced night vision equipment for patrol officers and vessels."

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