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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

​The six forefeited fish traps 

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Public complaints led to prosecution of man for prohibited fishing gear

​Onslow Court this month heard that use and possession of fish traps is illegal in WA waters.

It was part of a case against a Margaret River man, who did not attend court, but entered an endorsed plea of guilty. The magistrate fined the man $1,000.

The prosecution of the 69-year-old followed public complaints in May that were brought to the attention of Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) compliance officers, after when the man was reported driving his recreational boat, with six fish traps on the bow, through the waters of Beadon Creek Onslow.

Several days later, the officers travelled from Exmouth to execute a search warrant, with support of WA Police, at an Onslow property, where the six fish traps located and seized.

In a video record of interview, the Margaret River man admitted to being the master of the vessel seen on the 17th of May, fish traps were on board, he was the owner of the boat and he had launched and retrieved the vessel at Beadon Creek Boat Ramp that day.

It is against WA fishing laws to use traps to take fish in the waters of the Indian Ocean as well as any estuary, inlet, river, brook or stream. It is also an offence for a master of a boat to carry illegal fishing gear in those waters.

The magistrate ordered the forfeiture of the six, as part of his sentencing.

In a sentencing submission made to the court on Tuesday (8 December) that traps left unattended have a detrimental impact on aquatic life through ‘self-baiting’ or ‘ghost trapping’. Particularly at threat are aquatic animals that need to return to the surface to breath, such as turtles and sea snakes.    

Acting Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer for DPIRD’s Northern Region, David Lewington said the $1,000 fine for carrying prohibited gear on a boat should act as a deterrent.

“I also thank the Onslow public who reported this matter to us in May,” Mr Lewington said. 

Whether it’s illegal fishing gear, or other potential breaches of WA’s fishing rules, we urge people to report what they see or suspect may be illegal fishing activity to 1800 815 507.

FishWatch operators treat all reports in the strictest of confidence and, by reporting what you see, you will be assisting us in protecting WA's fish resources for future generations.

The obligation for all fishers is to know the rules that apply to gear, what they are fishing for and the where they plan to fish. More information is available in the Recreational fishing guide, available on the department’s website at

Last modified: 15/12/2020 4:26 PM

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