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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
​Baldchin gropers - unique to WA​
Tuesday 31 August 2021

Boatie brags about illegal baldies catch and reels in chin-trembling court fine

Search and seizure powers of Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) compliance officers are extensive and consequential, as a fisher found in a Geraldton Court yesterday.

The 51-year-old man was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, a mandatory additional penalty of $8,580 and costs of $1,467.70 – in all adding up to $12,047.70

A Facebook post in June last year showed 46 baldchin gropers on the deck of the man’s vessel not only led to the big fine, but the magistrate also granted an application by the department for the offender’s recreational fishing from boat licence to be suspended for three months.  
The image hooked a $12k+ court bill and a 3-month licence suspension.

On Monday, the court heard the vessel, for which the Geraldton man was the master, had departed Batavia Marina bound for the Abrolhos Islands on 30 May last year (2020). 

The next morning (1 June) the officers observed the vessel at the Abrolhos, near Easter Group.

Geraldton Court was also told that later in the day at approximately 2:00pm an image of the baldchin gropers, laid out on the rear deck of the vessel, had been taken on an iPhone owned by the offender.

In the West Coast Region, the total possession limit is two-day’s bag limit of whole demersal fish per person. As there were six people on board the vessel, the allowed possession limit was 24 demersal fish.

Affectionately known as ‘baldies’, this fish species is only found in Western Australian waters. They are slow-growing demersals and take five to seven years to reach 40cm in length. As a result, baldchin groper stocks are at risk from sustained overfishing. 

DPIRD’s Director Regional Compliance in the Midwest, Mick Kelly said it was shocking there was nearly double the allowable limit of demersal fish in the photo on the social media post.

“I often say DPIRD compliance officers are out and about, where and when you least expect them and being on social media bragging about an illegal catch doesn’t mean you are out of sight,” Mr Kelly said.   

“Fishing rules are designed to support sustainability and when community standards are breached by the greedy, like this, we know that law-abiding fishers expect our officers to act.”

If you see potentially illegal WA fishing activity on any social media platform, report it to FishWatch​. Calls are treated confidentially, so keep the number handy - 1800 815 507.

Last modified: 2/09/2021 12:58 PM

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