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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 7 June 2019

Traffickable quantities of abalone attract substantial fines

​Whenever people are caught with more than the bag or possession limit of abalone, the fines are significant, but when they’re found with in excess of ten times the daily bag limit, they can potentially be prosecuted for unlawful trafficking in fish and the fines are even more substantial.

Two men from the Busselton – Dunsborough region, both aged 30, will now have to pay a total of $90,000 in fines, penalties and costs after being sentenced in Busselton Court on Tuesday (4 June). 

The outcome finalises a trafficking case that began early on the afternoon of December 16th, in 2016, when the two South West men were apprehended by Fisheries officers near Moses Rock at Wilyabrup with 437 Roe’s abalone, which is classed as a priority fish. 

During their Friday patrol of the area the officers observed the pair returning to a vehicle with a catch of 51 abalone. When the officers searched the 4WD though, they found three black plastic tubs containing a further 386 abalone.   

The court was told that in questioning, it was revealed the abalone in the tubs had been taken earlier that day from the ocean off Deepdene beach, south of Hamelin Bay.

It was also revealed in court that in records of interview with the men, it was admitted that one of them had been intending to illegally sell the abalone to a buyer in Margaret River. 

In Western Australia’s Southern Zone abalone fishery, the maximum daily bag limit is 20 Roe’s abalone per fisher per day. 

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Southern Region Compliance Manager Richard Petty said the two men held no authority to be in possession of such large quantities of abalone.

“In deciding to prosecute the pair, the department took into consideration the need to protect lawful commercial fishing operations and livelihoods of the commercial abalone fishing industry and to seek strong penalties to deter others from offending,” Mr Petty said.

One of the men was fined a general penalty of $40,000 plus a mandatory additional penalty of $13,110 whilst the other was fined $20,000 and a mandatory additional penalty of $13,110.  Both men were ordered to pay costs of more than $1900 each.   

437 abalone spread out for photographic evidence in December 2016 

Anyone who has information on any suspected illegal fishing activities is urged to call the FishWatch reporting line on 1800 815 507. Information can be given confidentially and, by reporting what you see, you will be assisting Fisheries officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in protecting WA's fish resources.

Last modified: 7/06/2019 2:21 PM

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