skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

​It was established that paella sold via Mr Smith’s catering business in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Sales of recreationally-caught rock lobster attract big fines in WA courts

​Fisheries and Marine Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have successfully wrapped up two significant prosecutions this month, involving the illegal sale of western rock lobsters.

In Perth Magistrate’s Court on Friday (9 August), 48 year-old Jason Kevin SMITH of Kingsley was found guilty of 16 charges and ordered to pay $75,264 in fines, mandatory penalties and costs. The magistrate also ruled that $38,500 being held as security against a returned seized vessel be forfeited. 

The court heard that during a search of the accused’s residence on Sunday, 7 February 2016, 26 plastic containers holding 13.69 kilograms of processed rock lobster flesh were located in the kitchen freezer and that on two other occasions in December and January SMITH had illegally sold a total of 15 whole lobsters and 22 cooked lobster tails from his home.

During the search, Fisheries officers also seized records which through forensic examination and further enquiries proved over 11 illegal sales of rock lobster. It was established that paellas sold via a catering business owned by SMITH in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster sections or flesh.  

SMITH was also charged for fishing for lobster using more than two pots, contrary to regulations for any holder of a recreational rock lobster fishing licence.

In a separate case on Tuesday (6 August) in Fremantle Court, 75 year-old Carmelo PENSABENE from Hamilton Hill pleaded guilty and was issued with fines, penalties and costs totaling $36,088.30.

DPIRD’s application to suspend his recreational boat fishing licence and recreational rock lobster fishing licence was granted with the court ordering an eight month suspension for both.

The court was told that across five separate occasions he either sold, or offered for sale, a total of 87 rock lobster or rock lobster tails and, when a search warrant was executed on his residence, he was found in possession of eight unclipped tails and 3.72 kilos of tail flesh.

Recreational fishers who take and keep any rock lobster must tail clip or tail punch the rock lobster and are not allowed to store rock lobster flesh, unless it is being consumed or prepared for immediate consumption.

DPIRD Manager Regional Compliance Metro Todd A’Vard said both cases were very serious and a reminder that Fisheries and Marine Officers had the expertise and resources to carry out complex investigations and would do so to secure illegal seafood sales convictions.

“It is illegal to sell or barter with recreationally-caught fish in Western Australia,” he said.

“Individuals with traffickable amounts in priority fish, like abalone and rock lobster, could face four year’s imprisonment or fines up to $400,000, as well as court orders, licence suspensions and vehicle or vessel forfeitures. Body corporates may be fined up to $800,000 for trafficking.”

Anyone who suspects illegal fishing activity or sales is urged to call FishWatch, 1800 815 507.

Photo caption:  It was established that paella sold via Mr Smith’s catering business in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster.  

Media contact: DPIRD media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937



Last modified: 13/08/2019 12:56 PM

© All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved. ABN: 18 951 343 745


© This work is copyright. You may display, print or reproduce this material only in an unaltered format for your personal or non-commercial use, or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.


The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at