Illegal fishers face court

TWO young fishers who illegally took lobsters from Batemans Marine Park have learnt a hard lesson by having to collectively pay nearly $30,000 in fines and court costs. The men faced court earlier this year after being found in illegal possession of eastern rock lobsters and threatening fisheries officers.

The two men, aged 20 and 23 years, attempted to escape officers by reversing their vehicle 200 metres up a busy street, nearly hitting a fisheries officer before being stopped. One man fled the scene with a catch bag of 11 lobsters, five of which were undersize.

Fisheries officers recovered and seized the lobsters, as well as the motor vehicle and dive gear. The two men faced Moruya Local Court, pled guilty and were convicted of a number of offences including: possess more than the possession limit of lobsters, possess prohibited size lobsters, obstructing a fisheries officer in the exercise of functions and assaulting a fisheries officer.

The 20 year old man was required to pay over $12,000 in fines and courts costs, and the 23 year old man must pay $8,400 in fines.The Local Court Magistrate also ordered forfeiture of the seized motor vehicle, at a cost of $2,000 to the 23 year old, as this provided the strongest deterrent against this activity happening again.

The 20 year old Broulee man was also convicted for an earlier offence relating to possessing a spear gun in a sanctuary zone, spearing a groper and obstructing fisheries officers, receiving a further $5,200 in fines and court costs.

In another illegal fishing incident, five Sydney men have been convicted and charged with possessing prohibited size fish, having more than the possession limit of fish and master of the boat failing to prevent a serious fisheries offence.

The men were issued fines totalling $9,000 and now have criminal records.

Fisheries officers found the men in possession of 28 prohibited size yellowtail kingfish at Tunks Park boat ramp in Cammeray, Sydney (the legal length for yellowtail kingfish is 65cm, with a bag limit of five).

Anglers on the water reported the illegal fishers via the Fishers Watch Phoneline. Already known to fisheries officers, the men were found and the illegally caught fish and boat was seized.

DPI encourages anyone who suspects illegal fishing to report in via the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536. The line is staffed during business hours, where reports are sent directly to the relevant fisheries officer.

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