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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 25 July 2017

Fisher cops fine for contravening commercial fishing management plan

​Scallop numbers are only just recovering along the Western Australian coast, following the 2010/11 marine heatwave that hit stocks so hard it forced the closure of fisheries and management plans were put in place to help recovery.

WA’s major commercial scallop fisheries operate in Shark Bay and at the Abrolhos Islands, with smaller operations along the South Coast and near Rottnest Island.

In the Carnarvon Court on Friday (21 July), a 43-year-old Carnarvon commercial fisher was ordered to pay more than $5,100 for breaching a management plan, by being in possession of more than 13 kilograms of scallop meat when his vessel was inspected in May 2015.

When Fisheries and Marine Officers checked the below deck freezer space, they located a crate that contained 13.185 kilograms of scallop meat split into a number of packages.

The court heard that the vessel was fishing in the waters of the Shark Bay Scallop Managed Fishery and at that time commercially fishing for scallops in those waters was prohibited.

In the sentencing submission by a State Solicitor’s Office prosecutor, the court heard that it was reckless and careless conduct from an experienced master of the vessel, who ought to have been aware of the decimation of the scallop industry and who would have foreseen that the decision to take the scallops when the fishery was closed would have a harmful impact on the efforts to recover the depleted fishery.

The magistrate commented that, as master of the vessel, he had a high degree of responsibility to ensure he was operating in accordance with the law. She accepted his plea of guilty and issued a fine of $2,000, plus a mandatory penalty of $2,373.30 and court costs of $742.50.

Following Friday’s outcome, Gascoyne-Midwest Compliance Manager for Fisheries, Graeme Meinema said there had been another case on 9 June, in which a 26-year-old crew member also found with scallops on the vessel was given a fine, penalty and costs totaling $3043.50.

“These two cases re-inforce that all fishers on a vessel can be held responsible for offences against a management plan, including deckhands and engineers,” Mr Meinema said.

Recovery of fish species from events like a marine heatwave does require drastic measures, like temporary closures and these tough decisions help ensure the fishery has time to restore itself to sustainable stock levels.

After a break of three years, fishing recommenced in late 2015 for the Shark Bay Scallop Managed Fishery and, this year, scallop fishing started again in the Abrolhos Islands, allowing commercial operators to enjoy the benefits of catches there for the first time in five years.

Last modified: 25/07/2017 3:07 PM

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