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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 24 June 2020

Significant penalties handed down in commercial lobster fishing court case

A 36 year-old Geraldton man has today lost western rock lobster fishing entitlements currently valued at more than $7.5 million, had his commercial fishing licence cancelled and been issued with other fines, penalties and court costs amounting to $302,498.

Sam Vincent Basile was sentenced in Perth Magistrates Court this afternoon in a case that demonstrates that quota management controls and compliance for Western Australia’s most valuable fishery are robust and protect the interests of its participants and the State.

WA’s western rock lobster fishery was the first fishery in the world to be independently certified as sustainable, through the international Marine Stewardship Council. This case supports the certification by ensuring there are high levels of compliance with management arrangements.

Basile pleaded guilty to 17 offences on Friday 29 May and today, in addition to the loss of entitlements and licence cancellation, he was issued with a general fine of $86,000 and court costs of $60,000, as well as a mandatory penalty of $156,498 related to the lobster catches associated with the offences.

The charges Basile pleaded guilty to relate to false and misleading information provided in pre-fishing nominations, catch in excess of licensed entitlement and on seven occasions operating in more than one zone of the West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery during a single trip.

During the case, Perth Magistrates Court was told that on those occasions, Basile had nominated to fish in Zone B of the fishery, in waters immediately adjacent to Geraldton, but each time travelled through that zone and fished in the waters around the Abrolhos Islands, which were within Zone A. 

In order to prove the series of offences, fisheries officers were able to recover relevant tracking data from the navigational computer of the vessel Basile mastered at the time.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Midwest Compliance Manager Mick Kelly said this case should be a reminder to both commercial and recreational fishers that severe penalties could be imposed for non-compliant behaviour in WA’s fisheries.

“The department has the resources and skills to investigate complex and protracted investigations like this,” Mr Kelly said.

“DPIRD’s fisheries compliance officers have achieved a successful prosecution today through their investigative capabilities, including our increasing use of digital forensics in analysing and compiling evidence for offences.”
 
  The vessel's navigational computers provided proof of the offences

Last modified: 24/06/2020 4:41 PM

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