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Reef guardians angling for change.

From fun-filled fishing days for kids to voluntary pledges for adult anglers, Reef Guardian Councils are working with their communities for a healthy fishing future.  

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Our enviable Wet Tropics lifestyle translates to more people on the water. 23,420 recreational vessels are registered in Far North Queensland, which makes us one of the highest percentage to population of boat owners in the reef catchments.

Reef Guardian Councils form a local government alliance working to reduce impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.  

Working in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the councils are stepping up to ensure their communities can enjoy fishing for generations to come.  

In the northern Wet Tropics, the Douglas Shire Council has been working with local fishers to develop a voluntary code of practice. It’s part of a larger plan to encourage the community to take ownership and ‘fish for the future’, says Douglas Mayor Michael Kerr.   

“Fishing is such an integral part of our cultural and economic identity. From our Traditional Owners’ long history to our more recent history as a fishing port, a code of practice recognises that we all have a responsibility to protect and nurture our marine ecosystems if we want an abundant and resilient fishery,” Mayor Kerr says. 

Cr Jeff Baines from the Cassowary Coast Regional Council is chair of the Reef Guardian Council’s executive committee which oversees the stewardship program.  

He believes local governments have a key role to play in the future of recreational fishing in the tropical north.  

“Our waterways and reefs have a long and proud history as one of Australia’s leading fishing destinations. As our communities grow and environmental pressures increase, it’s vital to ensure we are all acting sustainably.” 

The Cassowary Coast is home to an annual Tilapia Tournament, the largest competition of its kind in Australia.  

“The tournament is a great way to get young fishers involved. They’re not only removing an introduced pest species from our local wetlands, they are also learning why wetlands are important for healthy populations of reef fish,” Cr Baines said. “We’re spreading the message that what we do on land has an impact on what happens in the water.”   

The Reef Authority’s Reef Guardian Council program manager Rebecca Allen says each council has their own approach to sustainable recreational fishing, reflecting the diversity of their communities and the fishing experience.      

“These councils are going above and beyond their usual local government activities to support sustainable recreational fishing practices. I am really proud of what they are achieving and how we are spreading the Reef Guardian message together.” 

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