FUTURE: Fishing forums will educate anglers about sustainable fishing practices.
FUTURE: Fishing forums will educate anglers about sustainable fishing practices. Warren Lynam

Sustainable fishing on agenda in new initiative

COOLOOA Coast anglers could be the latest to benefit from the Fishers for Fish Habitat forums in Queensland, engaging recreational fishers in the protection and management of the region's valuable areas of fish habitat.

Run by the non-for-profit organisation, Ozfish Unlimited, the initiative will help educate anglers in sustainable fishing practices to ensure protected areas are not put in danger or over fished.

The forums are part of a national effort funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to support the recreational fishing community to get active in fish habitat protection and restoration.

The first of two forums will be held tomorrow at Caloundra Power Boat Club from 8.30am to noon.

This free forum is an opportunity for fishers to learn how important fish habitat is to quality fish, and what they can do to improve their local fishing environment.

At this forum, attendees will hear from Michael Hutchinson from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jock McKenzie from Mangrovewatch and Kerry Jones from Kabi Kabi First Nation.

Healthy Waterways and Catchments CEO Julie McLellan said the declining health of fish habitats in South East Queensland could have social, economic and environmental repercussions.

"By volume and value per unit area, the Moreton Bay region is the most important fishery in the state," Ms McLellan said.

"Recreational fishing is an important leisure activity in south-east Queensland.

"Our mangroves, seagrass and saltmarsh provide critical environments for juvenile fish, crustaceans and many other plants and animals that are the basis of vital fisheries.

"Impacts to the health of fish habitats include loss of riparian zones and mangroves, barriers to fish movement and decreased water quality.

"We are very excited to be working alongside Ozfish Unlimited and our local recreational fishers to understand the values of our local fish habitat areas, the impacts of a poor environment, and to build a collective vision in the protection and restoration of these vital natural assets."

OzFish Unlimited director Craig Copeland said impacts on fish habitats could be addressed by actions such as removing barriers to fish movement, replanting riparian areas and improving water quality.

"It's recreational fishers that will make the difference - we get the most out of having a good place to fish, so helping fish habitat seems like the right thing to do," he said.

The second forum will be held on Saturday, December 3 at the Gold Coast.