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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 8 December 2021

A costly lesson from last summer about false and misleading information

A recent Port Hedland court outcome is a salutary reminder about misleading compliance officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). 

Two men, who went out for a day’s fishing together in January, copped court fines and costs late last month, because they tried to cover-up that one of the men didn’t have a valid licence.

When the 32-year-old skipper of the vessel, who lives in Port Hedland, gave a name for his fishing partner that turned out not to be correct, he became embroiled in illegal activity and was fined $559.30 including costs for giving false or misleading information.

The other fisher, a 34-year-old from Ellenbrook, produced a licence belonging to his cousin. 

The court heard that the man, who did not have a recreational fishing from boat licence, had produced his cousin’s licence because “he didn’t want anyone to get into trouble.” 

Section 199 of the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 deals with false and misleading information and Port Hedland Magistrates Court was told that section of the Act states that a person must not state anything or give or produce any document to a fisheries officer that the person knows is false or misleading.

The Ellenbrook man was fined $1659.30, including $1200 for false and misleading information, $200 for fishing from a boat and not having a licence for that, plus court costs.

DPIRD’s compliance officers, who inspected the men’s catch at Port Hedland Boat Ramp around 5pm on 21 January this year had counted nine demersal fish, which would have been okay if each of the men had a licence, but the 34-year-old fisher didn’t.

These fish were caught illegally, because the second licence wasn’t valid.

DPIRD Regional Compliance Director, North, Stuart McDowall said fisheries compliance officers are there to ensure that people are doing the right thing and this case shows the foolishness of giving false information.

“If our compliance officers suspect illegal fishing activity, they have wide-ranging powers to investigate,” Mr McDowall said.

“Keep that in mind this summer and know that when your vessel is being inspected by our officers, they are safeguarding WA’s fishing rules and we know that law-abiding fishers expect DPIRD’s compliance officers to act if they uncover wrong-doing.”

If you see or suspect illegal fishing activity in WA, report it to FishWatch. Calls are treated confidentially, so keep the number handy - 1800 815 507.

Last modified: 8/12/2021 1:41 PM

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