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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 24 August 2021

Fisher loses boat, trailer, right to fish for rock lobster and cops big fine

A 60-year-old Geraldton man has lost a lot in the past week, through illegal fishing.

There is important advice in the Rock lobster: Recreational fishing guide​ published by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). It warns against illegal rock lobster fishing activity can result in “loss of boats, vehicles and equipment”. It goes on to advise “offenders may also lose the privilege of engaging in licensed fishing activity”. 

Last Thursday (19 August) Geraldton Magistrates Court heard that between 28 July last year and 19 November 2020, the man had pulled more than the legal number of rock lobster pots on six separate days.

Twice during that period, he also interfered with fishing gear belonging to people who had not given any authority to the man to pull their lobster pots. On 30 October 2020, he pulled a rock lobster pot with no gear identification on the attached float. 

The court also heard that, on 30 October and 19 November last year, he was found to have used rock lobster pots with attached haul lines over 20 metres in length, which had not been appropriately weighted, which is breach of gear restrictions under Whale mitigation rules.        

When Compliance officers from DPIRD inspected the Geraldton man’s vessel on 19 November they found two tar spot western rock lobsters, which are classed as totally protected.

It was that day the man, who admitted to the officers he was the master of the vessel, that the 4.55m runabout was seized. The boat was forfeited at last Thursday’s court hearing.

But there’s more, the Magistrate also ordered forfeiture of the trailer for the runabout, plus a fuel tank with 40 litres of fuel, an echo sounder, GPS, a VHF radio and rock lobster fishing gear including ropes, floats and a pot.

There were also fines and mandatory penalties handed down for more than a dozen offences. In all the fines, penalties and court costs added up to $12,148.70. 

DPIRD’s Director Regional Compliance in the Midwest, Mick Kelly said in addition to the financial impact of this case, the man also lost his recreational rock lobster fishing endorsement for a period of two years.

“The take home message from this is that illegal fishing is a slippery slope and that our DPIRD compliance officers are out and about, where and when you least expect them,” Mr Kelly said.   

If you see or hear of illegal fishing activity, call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

The line is open 24/7 and your report is treated in the strictest confidence.

Last modified: 2/09/2021 1:29 PM

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