Project number: 2018-049
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $125,693.00
Principal Investigator: Andrew Chin
Organisation: James Cook University (JCU)
Project start/end date: 31 Jan 2020 - 29 Aug 2021


• Bycatch reduction in the Qld East Coast Inshore Finfish Fishery (ECIFF), especially of species of conservation interest (SOCI) species is a key priority for Qld DAF (see
• The trialing of alternative gear types such as tunnel nets is specifically listed in the Queensland Government’s Directions Paper release in January 2019 (see file:///C:/Users/jc184965/Documents/JCU/Projects/A%20BETTER%20WAY%20TO%20FISH/FRDC%202019/queensland-government-direction-on-fisheries-reform-2018.pdf)
The need for these policy reforms are driven by multiple factors:
• Inshore net fisheries face mounting challenges in operating costs, competition, environmental sustainability, regulatory environment, and social license. Bycatch of species of conservation interest (SOCI) and finfish bycatch mortality has fed community concerns, fisher conflict, and regulatory scrutiny.
• Sustainability concerns and conflict have driven recent regulatory changes that have diminished resource access and community trust of independent small scale commercial net fishers (SSCNFs).
• There is an urgent need to explore new options and approaches for SSCNFs if the fishery is to remain viable.
• There is also an urgent need to move the fishery in a direction of becoming a community supported fishery where consumers understand how fish are caught, are connected to SSCNFs, and value locally caught, demonstrably sustainable product.
• SSCNFs are interested in trailing new environmentally friendly fishing methods – tunnel nets or fish traps - that would replace existing mesh nets. This innovation aims to maintain harvest of target species, but significantly reduce interaction with and mortality of bycatch species including SOCI.
• However, gear feasibility and performance needs to be assessed. If the method is successful, this information will be crucial to designing future management and advising wider adoption.
• Trailing these methods also provides opportunities for SSCNFs and local communities for shared learning, increased understanding, and career development


1. Complete site visits and fisher exchanges to develop a “Preliminary Feasibility Trial Implementation Plan”. This also constitutes a GO/NO GO/ REVISE point for the project.
2. Limited tests of the feasibility of tunnel nets in north Queensland waters at two sites
Mackay and Cardwell.
3. Successful community engagement resulting in community knowledge of, and support for the preliminary feasibility trials.

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