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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 5 September 2017

Black market rock lobster operations shut down

​A fine and costs of $94,409.35, forfeiture of fishing equipment and a court order, prohibiting the offender from being on any vessel fishing for rock lobster for two years, has marked the end of an illegal rock lobster dealing case.

In Joondalup Magistrates Court on Wednesday (30 August), 67-year-old Graham Thomas Davies of Yanchep entered pleas of guilty to a number of serious charges that arose from a operation by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Fisheries officers.

The court heard that on 15 December 2015, Davies illegally sold 20 rock lobster that had been caught recreationally and, on 14 January 2016, he illegally sold another 50 recreational rock lobster.

Further Fisheries investigations revealed that Davies had, on 18 other occasions from November 2015 to March 2016, sold an additional 279 recreationally-caught rock lobster.

Compliance Manager Todd A’Vard said that during the execution of search warrants at two residences in April 2016, a 6.4metre vessel, plus trailer and 150hp outboard were seized, as well as cooking and processing equipment and supplies.

“This outcome highlights how serious the court considers these offences. Whilst on this occasion the vessel and trailer were not forfeited, the significant fines, as well as forfeiture of four rock lobster pots and a GPS - and the granting of a court order prohibiting Davies from being on a boat used for rock lobster fishing -  sends a strong message,” Mr A’Vard said.

“Commercial fishing is carefully managed by the department, to ensure our most precious Western Australian fish species are sustainably harvested. Taking fish and selling them for commercial gain, outside of the licensed fishery, not only jeopardizes the livelihoods of legitimately licensed fishers, but also threatens the sustainability of the fishery.

“Black market fish thieves are on notice - individuals tempted to sell their catch illegally need to consider the risk of receiving large fines and having boats, vehicles and gear seized. Seafood trafficking offences also carry a potential of four-years jail – do you want to risk that?”

In a separate operation, a search warrant was executed late last month at a Hamilton Hill home targeting illegal rock lobster dealing following a surveillance operation. The operation led to the seizure of 24 rock lobster tails and other items. A 73-year-old man is under investigation.

Anyone who has information on illegal fishing activities, including the black market sale of seafood, is asked to call the FishWatch reporting line 1800 815 507.

Last modified: 5/09/2017 1:14 PM

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