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Commercial fishermen agree to protect Coral Sea reefs.

The Coral Sea Fishers Association (CSFA), one of Australia's largest commercial fishing groups, has volunteered not to fish some of the country's most lucrative reefs.

An agreement between tourist dive-boat operators and the CSFA means trawlers will no longer take fish from Bougainville, Osprey, Flora Dart and Herald's Surprise reefs, apart from small-scale fishing to replenish stocks for public aquariums.

The near-pristine reefs, which lie in the Coral Sea outside the Great Barrier Reef, attract divers from around the world.

Commercial operators will be banned from fishing within 2 km, effectively leaving the reefs to recreational fishing and dive-boat operators.

'The Coral Sea fishery covers an area of 92 000 square kilometres and while commercial fishing is already intensively managed, we recognise that the reefs in the Coral Sea closest to Cairns are of particular importance to dive chart operators,' says CSFA member Rob Lowden.

'This shows that the people who make a living from the reefs care about them greatly,' he said.

Lowden said he believed the agreement was the first time commercial operators had voluntarily surrendered fishing rights anywhere in the world.

Shark researcher and cinematographer Richard Fitzpatrick said the agreement protected large fish species and was a boon for tourism.

'The move to maintain the ecological balance of these reefs is a fantastic effort by both parties.'
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Title Annotation:Coral Sea Fishers Association
Author:Craig, Alison
Publication:Ecos
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Words:220
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