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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 16 August 2023

Commercial fisher fined for exceeding entitlement

A 75-year-old commercial fishing licence holder from Eneabba has been ordered to pay more than $26,000 for exceeding his entitlement, after a three-day trial in the Perth Magistrates Court last week.

An audit of fishing trips by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) found improper recording of five trips and excess catch.

The licence holder had arrangements with two masters to undertake fishing under his Managed Fishery Licence Entitlement in the Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fishery in February 2020.

DPIRD Fisheries Officers found one master had not recorded his catch but had only noted details in his personal fishing diary.   

It was determined that on 10 February 2020, the commercial fisher’s entitlement was fully exhausted and four days later, further fishing exceeded that entitlement. The excess catch included multiple species of sharks and scale fish. 

The licence owner and master were originally issued a $3,000 infringement each for exceeding the catch. This was accepted by the master but challenged in court by the licence owner. 

It was revealed in court, that at the start of the fishing year the offender had converted the entitlement on his Managed Fishery Licence into fishing hours and left it to the master in charge of the vessel to monitor the entitlement. 

He had shown the vessel masters how to calculate and monitor entitlement usage but did not issue written instructions or take reasonable precautions to ensure compliance with the Fish Resources Management Act.

Last Friday (11 August), the Magistrate found the accused had not proven a defence under the Act, in that he did not issue proper written instructions or exercise due diligence in monitoring the entitlement taken and the offence could have been prevented. 

A $9,000 fine was imposed with an additional mandatory penalty of $14,074 related to the excess fish taken, plus court costs of $3,500. 

DPIRD Director Regional Compliance South Noel Chambers said the case was an example of great investigative work by fisheries officers and included using expert knowledge within the department to detect the offence.

“Matters like this can be very complicated, and required unravelling the extent of the fishing arrangements and where the allowable entitlement was exceeded under the accused Managed Fishery Licence,” Mr Chambers said. 

“Our fisheries officers did a thorough job in determining what happened. This case also demonstrates that owners of a licence have a responsibility to ensure the specific Fishery Management Plan is complied with.”

Last modified: 17/08/2023 11:11 AM

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