Court seizes WA man’s boat, gear for illegal lobster fishing

Rock Lobster (Photo: Western Australia Museum)

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 Western Australia 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” and goes on to advise “offenders may also lose the privilege of engaging in licensed fishing activity”.

On Thursday, August 19, Geraldton Magistrates Court heard that between July 28 and November 19 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 October 30, 2020, he pulled a rock lobster pot with no gear identification on the attached float.

The court also heard that, on October 30 and November 19 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, a breach of gear restrictions under Whale mitigation rules.

When compliance officers from the DPIRD inspected the Geraldton man’s vessel on November 19, 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 4.55-metre runabout was seized. The boat was forfeited at last Thursday’s court hearing.

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.

Mr Mick Kelly, the DPIRD’s Director Regional Compliance in the Midwest, said that 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.


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