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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 14 June 2023

Magistrates issue big fines for illegal abalone fishing

A Geraldton magistrate this week issued fines totalling almost nine thousand dollars ($8989.30) to a 53-year-old man from Beresford for three offences related to out of season abalone fishing on a reef platform at Cape Burney last December.

Fisheries officers with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development apprehended the man after he returned to shore and was found with 127 abalone in a backpack. He did not have a Recreational fishing licence for abalone and had taken his haul from waters closed to abalone fishing.

  The abalone seized at Cape Burney in December 2022

Abalone fishing in Western Australian waters north of the Moore River mouth and through to the Northern Territory border has been closed since 2011, when stocks were decimated by a marine heatwave. The closure of abalone fishing along this part of the coast is in place so that the abalone stocks can recover to a sustainable level. 

Abalone fishing is only permitted in designated areas and in limited fishing seasons in WA. 

Abalone can be fished daily along the Southern Zone coastline between the South Australian border and Busselton from 1 October through to 15 May the following year. North of Busselton and as far as Moore River, abalone fishing is limited to four designated Saturdays in summer between 7am and 8am only. Dates are announced in advance.

In Joondalup Court last Friday, a 45-year-old man from Ballajura was penalised $4749.80 for abalone infringements during a designated fishing window on 10 December last year at Iluka beach. A search of his catch bag and bucket revealed he had 82 abalone, 67 more than the allowed limit of 15. 

Also, in Joondalup Court on 9 June, a 40-year-old Beechboro man was ordered to pay a total of $5,754.80 for not having an abalone recreational fishing licence and fishing outside the designated fishing window for the West Coast Zone, as well as failing to comply with orders and directions from fisheries officers.     

DPIRD Director of Regional Compliance Metro Todd A’Vard said the recent fines issued in the Joondalup and Geraldton cases showed the seriousness of abalone fishing offences.

“These were offences that go to the heart of keeping the abalone fishery sustainable, and fishers need to follow the rules about where and when they can fish, and not exceed daily bag limits,” Mr A’Vard said.

FishWatch is available 24/7 for anyone to report illegal fishing – call 1800 815 507 to report what you’ve seen, or, alternatively use the online form on Crimestoppers​.

Last modified: 14/06/2023 2:30 PM

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