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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Thursday 13 December 2018

Fish Habitat Protection Areas need to be respected as important fish and crab nurseries

​Miaboolya Beach FHPA, near Carnarvon, has been protected under WA’s fish laws since April 2003, because it has exceptional ecological and community significance and is vulnerable to overfishing. The net is now dropping on people who ignore the law.

Operation Eastburn has been set up to target offenders who are risking the sustainability of this nursery, with fishing methods that indiscriminately kill everything they catch.

If traps and nets are lost, they continue to “ghost fish” and become an ongoing risk to the protection area. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for Fisheries and Marine Officers to come across illegal fishing gear that’s been forgotten or traps and nets hidden for future use. 

This month, one man has been fined $7,475, another was ordered to pay $2,645 and a third man fined $2,525, after rulings in the Carnarvon Magistrates Court in cases that revealed illegal fishing activity in the Miaboolya Beach FHPA

Andrew NGUYEN, aged 59, from Carnarvon was charged with several offences after being apprehended on 26 June this year by Fisheries and Marine Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Illegally caught fish and crabs, from the Miaboolya FHPA

Along with 29 green mud crabs, Nguyen also had 6 blue swimmer crabs, 5 mulloway, 2 estuary cod, 2 mullet, 2 eels, one yellowfin bream, a Malabar cod and a stingray in his possession. The majority of which were less than their respective size limits. A large quantity of fishing gear was also seized and forfeited as part of the sentence.

The two other men from Carnarvon, 32 year-old Canh VO and 51 year-old Van VO who were fined in Carnarvon court on 4 December, were in a ute that was stopped by Fisheries officers on Sunday 18 March 2018 as they were leaving the edge of Miaboolya Creek.

Both admitted to using three traps to take some of the 11 green mud crabs, ten of which were less than the legal size of 150millimetres. They were charged with a number of offences.

Carnarvon District Fisheries and Marine Officer Matt Clarke said it was vital that the Fish Habitat Protection Area at Miaboolya Beach, which is 16 kilometres by road north of Carnarvon, was always respected and illegal traps and nets were not acceptable.

“We are continuing Operation Eastburn to highlight the need to protect this very important area and I urge anyone with information about suspected illegal fishing activity there to call FishWatch on 1800 815 507 and report what they know,” Mr Clarke said.

“The importance of the Miaboolya FHPA should not be understated, it’s a vital nursery for fish and crabs and home to more than 130 marine species that inhabit the area, so we need to do everything we can to keep it sustainable and only fish using allowable methods.”

Last modified: 13/12/2018 11:41 AM

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