Geraldton Magistrate’s Court has made an example of a Northampton woman caught illegally taking Roe’s abalone from the Greenough River mouth earlier this year. Despite a non-appearance in court on Thursday, Helshari Nutter, was found guilty and fined $1000 after she was caught on January 24 with 19 abalone in a black bucket. Fisheries officials said the 31-year-old and a friend were caught by a Fisheries patrol at 6.25am walking along the reef at the Greenough River mouth. At the time she told the patrol the abalone had been taken from the reef that morning. In court, a letter from the Department of Fisheries research scientist Lachlan Strain was read aloud highlighting why tough penalties for abalone fishing was needed. “The West Australian abalone fishery north of Moore River was closed indefinitely after a catastrophic heat wave in summer 2011 effectively wiped out all stock,” Dr Strain said. “In some places as many as 99.9 per cent of the population died.” Dr Strain said there were very few viable stocks of the marine mollusc remaining and while the Greenough River population was small, it was a valuable component of recovery efforts. “Any unauthorised fishing is considered detrimental to the future of populations in the area,” he said. Magistrate Chris Miocevich shared his concern. “I need to send a message to anyone thinking about this,” he said. “It absolutely will not be tolerated.” Nutter was fined $1000 for contravening the finishing ban, ordered to pay an additional penalty of $570 and $225.90 in court costs.