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Garrett Trevor Orr: Geraldton court hands down $12,000 penalty to fisher caught with illegal catch

Geraldton Guardian
A Facebook post in June last year showing the illegal catch of 46 baldchin gropers.
Camera IconA Facebook post in June last year showing the illegal catch of 46 baldchin gropers. Credit: Facebook

A Facebook post bragging about an illegal catch has left a Geraldton fisher more than $12,000 out of pocket and he has lost his recreational fishing boat licence for three months.

Garrett Trevor Orr, 52, faced Geraldton Magistrates Court on Monday and was ordered to pay a $2000 fine, a mandatory extra penalty of $8580, and costs of $1467.70 — adding up to $12,047.70 — after pleading guilty to a charge of being over the limit of a certain fish species.

A photo had been taken on Orr’s phone on June 1 last year and posted on Facebook of 46 baldchin gropers on the deck of his vessel, named Awesome.

Orr had departed the day before from Batavia Marina bound for the Abrolhos Islands.

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Compliance officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development inspected the catch on board the vessel on May 30, which included eight baldchin gropers. Officers again spotted the vessel at the Easter Group the next day.

An anonymous source tipped them off to the Facebook post.

In the West Coast region, the daily bag limit is two whole demersal fish per person.

As there were six people on board the vessel, the allowed limit was 24 demersal fish.

Baldchin gropers, affectionately known as “baldies”, are only found in WA waters and are slow-growing demersals, taking five to seven years to reach 40cm in length. This puts them at risk of sustained overfishing.

DPIRD director regional compliance in the Mid West Mick Kellysaid it was shocking there was nearly double the allowable limit of demersal fish in the photo.

“I often say DPIRD compliance officers are out and about, where and when you least expect them, and being on social media bragging about an illegal catch doesn’t mean you are out of sight,” he said.

“Fishing rules are designed to support sustainability, and when community standards are breached by the greedy, like this, we know that law-abiding fishers expect our officers to act.”

In court, Orr was granted a spent conviction.

Anyone who sees potentially illegal fishing activity can report it confidentially to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

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