WA fisher fined over $6,300 for exceeding scalefish catch limits

West Australian dhufish (Photo: Recfishwest.org.au)

A day out on the water, with five times the possession limit on-board, has cost a 53-year-old Safety Bay man $6,339.80 and he’s been without his vessel since August last year, because it was seized by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) officers.

On Thursday, July 15, a Geraldton Magistrates Court heard the man was the only person aboard and was about 40 kilometres west of Leeman when the compliance officers inspected his vessel on August 24, 2020, and located 20 demersal scalefish in an 80-litre refrigerator/freezer.

Three WA dhufish, four baldchin groper and 13 pink snapper that had been caught by the accused were located in an icebox on board the 7.7-metre offshore cruiser. All these fish were taken in the West Coast Region and this exceeded his possession limit by 16 fish.

DPIRD’s prosecutor also told the court the state-wide possession limit of whole fish is two days bag limit, meaning the maximum number of demersal scalefish a person can have in their possession in the West Coast Region is four.

West Australian dhufish, baldchin groper and pink snapper are classified as demersal scalefish.

The man made an early guilty plea to the three offences he was charged with, including having twice the possession limit of Category One fish, taking twice the bag limit of Category One fish and being master of a vessel exceeding the WA Dhufish boat limit. He was granted a spent conviction and DPIRD made no application for the forfeiture of the seized vessel and fishing gear, in light of the early guilty plea.

Forfeiture of all 20 fish seized as part of the offence was granted by the magistrate.

An order prohibiting the accused from holding any recreational fishing authorisation for a period of one year was also granted, along with an order prohibiting the accused from being on a recreational vessel for a period of one year. Those orders began on the date of his conviction.

DPIRD’s Director of Regional Compliance for the Midwest and Gascoyne, Mick Kelly, said the prohibitions granted in court, along with the $6,339.80 in fines and penalties, indicate the seriousness of the offences.

“In Western Australia we’re into the second half of a 20-year recovery plan to help keep our State’s highly-valued demersal species sustainable,” Mr Kelly said.


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