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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 9 September 2020

Mandatory penalties are designed to deter fishing offences

When an offender is guilty of catch offences, under WA’s fishing laws, a mandatory penalty equal to ten times the prescribed value of the fish involved is automatically applied.
In Mandurah Court last Friday for example, a Gosnells couple (a man aged 37 and his wife 34), who were found in possession of 93 undersize blue swimmer crabs on Saturday 18 January this year, received mandatory penalties of $4,650 each.    
All up, with fines and court costs included, their illegal fishing activity at Len Howard Reserve in Erskine that was detected by compliance officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), cost the couple $4,918.70 each. 

The bucket and esky contained 93 undersize blue swimmer crabs

In other fishing cases before Mandurah Magistrates Court last Friday, a 24-year-old man from Wundowie that DPIRD compliance officers found with 60 undersize blue swimmer crabs, was issued with a $500 fine suspended for six months, along with costs of $248.70. His Friday night fishing off Herron Point on 3 January this year attracted a $3,000 mandatory penalty. 
A 62-year-old Cooloongup woman was given a mandatory penalty of $1,450 plus a $500 fine and $248.70 in court costs for having 29 undersize blue swimmer crabs. Acting on information, received via FishWatch, compliance officers from DPIRD stopped the vehicle she was driving on Wednesday 19 March this year at Wannanup, where she’d been fishing in shallow water.
The offender, who admitted catching the crabs that morning also told officers she didn’t know the rules. All of the crabs were under the minimum legal size of 127mm and were returned to the water by the officers shortly after the apprehension.    
DPIRDS’s Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer at Mandurah, Ryan Smith said mandatory penalties were not worth the risk of taking more than the bag limit or anything undersize.
“The prescribed value of blue swimmer crab in fishing regulations is $5, but when a mandatory penalty is applied for an offence, ten times five makes it $50 per crab, so for every undersize or over the bag limit crab, offenders can be in for an expensive date in court,” Mr Smith said. 
“I would also like to remind all fishers that blue swimmer crabs are now off-limits entirely until the beginning of December and cannot be taken in any waters including rivers, estuaries and man-made waterways from the Swan River to Rich Road, Minninup Beach (about 15kms south of Bunbury). These waters are closed to crab fishing from 1 September to 30 November.” 
More information on this closure and other rules is available in the Recreational fishing guide, available on the department’s website at The obligation for all fishers is to know the rules that apply to what they are fishing for and the where they plan to fish.
We urge people to report any suspected illegal fishing activity to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

Last modified: 9/09/2020 12:14 PM

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