TECHNOLOGY: Fisheries Minister Mark Furner, with a fisheries officer and Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert.
TECHNOLOGY: Fisheries Minister Mark Furner, with a fisheries officer and Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Melanie Whiting

CRACKDOWN: Dozens of fishers hooked by hefty fines

A WHOPPING 82 fines totalling more than $68,000 were issued by fisheries officers in the Mackay-Whitsunday region in the year to June for those caught doing the wrong thing.

But the crackdown on those flouting fishing regulations is set to continue after fines up to $390,000 and up to three years imprisonment for illegal fishing were introduced by the State Government earlier this year.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers are being equipped with body-worn cameras, surveillance kits and drones as part of a rollout of the technology across the state.

A drone has been deployed to Mackay to monitor marine habitats and fishing operations from Midge Point to Saint Lawrence.

The drone monitoring was met with mixed reactions in Mackay when it was announced in June, with concerns raised from commercial practice.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the drone rollout would also help with investigations.

"By its nature, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol field work can be hazardous and officers, at times, operate in difficult and often isolated environments," Mr Furner said.

"The new drones will allow Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers to monitor marine habitats and fishing operations from Midge Point to Saint Lawrence and anywhere in between from a distance.

"Ten drones have been deployed around the state, including to the Gold Coast, Warwick, Noosa, Hervey Bay Bundaberg, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Karumba and in Brisbane, with trained pilots in each of these locations.

"Footage from these drones could be used to gather intelligence, prosecute people who break the rules and support training of the Marine Animal Rescue Teams."

Across the state, fisheries officers carried out 22,407 inspections and detected a total of 2460 offences in the last financial year.

Mr Furner said the most common fisheries-related offence over the past 12 months was recreational fishers breaching size and possession limits for regulated fish species.

"Our state's fisheries resources belong to all Queenslanders and it is our job to protect fish for the future," Mr Furner said.

"Fish stocks are a resource that belong to all Queenslanders and protecting them protects thousands of jobs in both the commercial and recreational sectors."

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert has welcomed the changes, saying she wanted to see sustainable fish stocks for future generations.

"We want to see viable fish stocks for our commercial fishers as well as our recreational fishers," she said.