Seized vessel a warning to fishers

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian
The seized recreational fishing boat.
Camera IconThe seized recreational fishing boat. Credit: Supplied

A seized boat from the 2015 rock lobster fishing season is on display in Geraldton until April 30 as part of a campaign to remind fishers of the potential consequences of illegal behaviour.

The boat was seized by marine officers in December 2015. It belonged to a 61-year-old Greenwood man who was fined tens of thousands of dollars for a string of offences.

The man was charged for a range of individual and joint offences with another man, aged 66, from Kallaroo. Charges included having hundreds of rock lobster tails, dozens stored at his home, and an extra 230 lobster tails, 24 whole western rock lobsters and three lobster pots between them.

The two men faced 11 joint charges of interfering with fishing gear that did not belong to either of them and the Greenwood man was ordered to forfeit his boat and trailer which were used to commit the offences.

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Fisheries Mid West/Gascoyne compliance manager Mick Kelly said fishers who went against the law risked these consequences.

“Over recent months we have seized a number of boats and other equipment from owners facing potential prosecution and issued fines and warnings to dozens of other fishers who chose to break the law,” Mr Kelly said.

“It’s the minority that are pushing the limits by fishing out of season, illegally selling recreational catches, interfering with other people’s lobster pots or exceeding bag limits.

“Much of this is driven by greed or a flagrant disregard for the law and it’s these people we are targeting,” he said.

The department is active all year round with special operations to target key fishing periods and particular types of offending including Operation Bagana which targets offending in the rock lobster fishery and interference with other people’s fishing gear.

Since October 2016 Fisheries and Marine officers have seized a number of boats as well as trailers and fishing gear under Operation Bagana.

The seized vessel has been displayed at boat ramps and other locations around the State and will be will be a feature at the boat show in Geraldton at the end of April.

The vessel will make its way to the Gascoyne on June 12 and 13.

Anyone with information about illegal fishing activities has been asked not to get involved, but to carefully observe what you see and give FISHWATCH a call on 1800 815 507.

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