Jun 13, 2021


Jun 13, 2021

Fish and chip shops across the North are grappling with the shock news that Queensland’s much-loved Spanish Mackerel fishery industry is on the brink of collapse.  

Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said one way or another, the Spanish Mackerel industry was in jeopardy due to systemic regulatory and management failures by Fisheries Queensland.  

Mr Katter said a new, and potentially-flawed, biomass testing model introduced by the fishing regulator this year had suggested that the state’s Spanish Mackerel stocks were now depleted. [1][1] 

According to the new model Queensland’s Spanish Mackerel unfished biomass is presently sitting at 17 per cent, which is below the 20 per cent threshold that would see the fishery closed.  

This is despite the commercial and recreational fishing industry never having reached the quota limits set by Queensland Fisheries since 2004.  

The limits change each year, but in the 2018-19 year a total of 578 tonnes of Spanish Mackerel were allowed to be caught commercially and recreationally in Queensland.  

Spanish Mackerel is primarily consumed in North Queensland, and is a staple delicacy in local fish and chip shops.  

Mr Katter said the abrupt closure of such a prized fishery would result in multi-million dollar losses for the catching sector and post-harvest businesses and a have a severe domino effect on the broader North Queensland economy. 

“The state’s Seafood Industry Association and other stakeholders were only informed of the crisis at the 11th hour,” he said. 

“Up until a few weeks ago, no one was aware of any issues.  

“The industry is now asking two questions – 1) Is the new quota model accurate and if so, 2) How has fisheries presided so catastrophically over the exhaustion of Spanish Mackerel stocks?” 

Mr Katter said the North’s faith in Fisheries Queensland to manage quotas was shot. 

George Clarke owns Magnetic Island fish and chip shop Stuffed on Seafood and buys six tonnes of Spanish Mackerel each year. 

He said if he can no longer get access to the prized product, he won’t have a business and his 25 employees will be out of work. 

“Not only would it be me, it would be hundreds of other fish and chip shops and restaurants that would be unviable to operate,” he said. 

“Fishermen will be out of a job and their half a million to million-dollar boats will be tied up and sit there gathering barnacles.” 

Mr Clarke said commercial and recreational fishermen caught about 500 tonne of mackerel each year, below the 600 tonne limit, triggering deep confusion and stress amongst the industry. 

A working group plans to meet in the coming weeks to discuss a peer review of the original science used in the methodology that will either support or oppose Fisheries Queensland’s status with regards to the Spanish Mackerel stocks.