Cooloongup fisher pleads guilty in Perth court for illegal sale of rock lobster
Guilty pleas to charges involving the illegal sale of rock lobster, using excess pots, and interfering with fishing gear has cost a 54-year-old Cooloongup man more than $30,000 and seen him forfeit his boat and fishing gear.
The man was placed under surveillance by compliance officers from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) following a report from members of the public.
On Friday, May 27, a Perth Magistrates Court heard the string of offences began in April 2020 in the waters off Safety Bay when the man used five lobster pots, instead of two pots permitted under WA fishing rules, and pulled and checked a pot belonging to a person whom he did not know.
On another two separate occasions in May 2020, the man used seven pots and six pots more than allowed when fishing from his boat off Safety Bay and Warnbro. He also interfered with two lobster pots that belonged to people unknown to the offender and even spent 15 minutes attempting to free one of the pots from the seabed, before giving up.
In a video record of interview, the man admitted that although he knew it was illegal, he sold crayfish he had caught recreationally.
In evidence presented to the court, it was revealed the 54-year-old had sold rock lobsters to another man at a café in Nedlands on three occasions. He sold 13 lobsters for $100 on April 7, 2020, another seven lobsters for $50 on April 30, 2020, and 24 lobsters for $200 on May 5, 2020.
As well as forfeiting his boat and fishing gear, the man was issued fines of $19,000, plus penalties of $11,000 for the rock lobster involved in his offences, and costs of $259.30.
DPIRD Director Regional Compliance Metro Todd A’Vard said this case proved that operating outside the rules for recreational fishers was a very costly error for the offender.
“Fines, penalties, and costs of more than $30,000 and the loss of a boat and fishing gear should not only provide a strong personal deterrent to the offender, but also provide a significant warning to anyone else who thinks they can ignore the rules,” Mr A’Vard said.
“We appreciate the public information we receive that helps us deal with offences like these, which are difficult to detect. If you suspect illegal fishing activity of any kind, please report your information to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.”