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Illegal fishing offshore from Rocky results in 12-month ban

ILLEGAL activity offshore from the Rockhampton-Gladstone reef has led to a 12-month ban for two commercial fishermen.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) issued the ban after the commercial line fishers were convicted of multiple illegal fishing offences near Swains Reef, extending from 110km to 250km offshore from the Gladstone-Rockhampton area.

The fishermen committed theoffences within a 10-month period.

It is understood at least one of the fishermen lives in Cairns.

The 12-month ban applies to commercial and recreational fishing in the entire 344,400sq km marine park.

Failure to comply with the ban could result in further prosecution and a fine of up to $105,000.

GBRMPA Field Management Director Richard Quincey said the penalty emphasises the importance that is placed on protecting the no-take area and the seriousness of the illegal fishing offences.

"Fishers who intentionally ignore no-take zone rules are letting down honest fishers and pose an unacceptable threat to the Reef,” Mr Quincey said.

Mr Quincey said the laws were in place to protect the Reef's recovery and sustainable fishing.

"The cumulative impacts of illegal fishing can have a significant ecological impacts and threaten Reef resilience and we treat it as a serious offence,” he said.

The current zoning plan was introduced in the marine park in 2004 and define the activities that can occur in which locations.

"Green zones are more important than ever to support the Reef ecosystem to recover from persistent threats,” Mr Quincey said.

"Following the zoning rules is critical in this recovery.”

Reports of suspected illegal activity in the Marine Park can be made anonymously by calling the 24-hour hotline 1800 380 048 or online at http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident

GREAT BARRIER REEF FAST FACTS:

One of the seven wonders of the world

Larger than the Great Wall of China

Only living thing on earth visible from space

The marine park stretches over 3000km, the world's largest reef system

It is 15 kilometres and 150 kilometres, 65km wide in some parts

It's parallel to the Queensland Coast, from Bundaberg up to Cape York

Has the world's largest collection of corals (over 400 different kinds)

Composed of over 900 islands

Home to over 1500 species of tropical fish, more than 200 types of birds and around 20 types of reptiles

Breeding area for humpback whales, migrating from the Antarctic

Habitat to the endangered Dugong and large Green Sea Turtle

Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1981