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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 17 July 2020

Big court fine provides deterrent on black market lobster sales

Black market fishing activity in 2016/17 that was uncovered by compliance officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) was punished in Fremantle Magistrates Court this week.

A 25-year-old man from Melville was ordered to pay $23,064.20 in fines, mandatory penalties and court costs after pleading guilty to seven charges.

The offender has also been prohibited from being on board a boat used to fish for rock lobster for a period of two years, effectively preventing him from being employed in the rock lobster fishery for that period.

On Tuesday (14 July) the court was told strict rules were in place, to ensure both rock lobster sustainability and the fishery’s reputation, as a significant contributor to the State’s economy.

The former deckhand made illegal cash sales of rock lobsters and was dealing with them. He also removed rock lobsters from a licensed fishing vessel operating under a Management Plan.

DPIRD compliance officers were able to uncover sufficient evidence to lay charges related to selling five lobsters on two occasions and a third charge based on dealing in four lobsters.

He was fined a total of $8,900 for a total of seven offences and was issued with mandatory additional penalties of $4,250 and Court Costs of $9,914.20.  

The former deckhand had been taking rock lobsters personally, in contravention of the Plan, including two plastic bags containing rock lobster which were taken from a licensed fishing boat in Fremantle during April 2017.  

The rock lobsters were not removed in accordance with the Plan because they were not placed in an appropriate landing container, tagged with a landing tag, weighed or consigned.

DPIRD’s manager regional compliance for the Perth Metropolitan Area, Todd A’Vard, said the man had now lost the chance of being employed on any WA rock lobster fishing boat for two years.

“This case is a reminder that there are people prepared to do black market deals and if members of the public are suspicious of any activity they come across, we urge them to not get directly involved and report their concerns to FishWatch on 1800 815 507,” Mr A’Vard said.

“Reports to FishWatch are treated confidentially and help to protect WA’s reputation for a safe, reliable and well-managed seafood industry.

“It’s also a reminder that DPIRD compliance officers have the skill and wide powers necessary to investigate black market operations.”

Last modified: 17/07/2020 5:05 PM

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