FISHERIES prosecutors have pushed for a jail sentence for a man who poached more than 250 abalone from Marmion Marine Park – an important research area where no one is allowed to fish.
The offender could also lose his son’s Jeep because he used it in the illegal activity.
Dat Duc Luu, aged in his mid 40s, pleaded guilty to four charges in Joondalup Magistrates Court on Friday including the serious offence of “being a person that trafficked in a commercial quantity of priority fish”.
Luu will be the first person sentenced under the charge since it was introduced in 2011.
Magistrate Gregory Benn is to sentence him on July 31.
Prosecutor Nicholas John said Luu, who was assisted in court by an interpreter, was monitored on three occasions in late 2016 attempting to take abalone from the reef “under of the cover of darkness to avoid detection” in the early hours of the morning.
The married father-of-three did not take any of the shellfish on the first two occasions but on his third attempt he took 255 Roe’s abalone after arriving about 3.20am at the Watermans carpark on December 30.
Fishers have been banned from Marmion Marine Park for nearly 50 years.
The bag limit for Roe’s abalone is 15 in designated zones.
Mr John said the reef had the highest density of large Roe’s in the state and was crucial as a research area.
“A pristine nature and shallow reef platform makes the abalone highly vulnerable to poaching,” he said.
“It only ceased because the accused was caught red handed with a massive amount of abalone.”
He said the offender, who works as a baker, was a former fisherman from Vietnam and would have known what he was doing was illegal.
He argued the offending was for a “definite commercial purpose”.
Fisheries officers seized the car Luu was driving, which was his son’s, and were still in possession of it.
Mr John submitted the car should never be returned and pushed for a jail sentence, but did not oppose to it being a suspended term.
Luu’s lawyer disagreed his client fished “under the cover of darkness” to avoid detection but chose the early hours because that was when the tide was most suitable for catching abalone.
He said Luu did not do it for a commercial purpose, instead he wanted to freeze the abalone and ship them to family in Queensland for Christmas presents.
He emphasised he was not going to restaurants peddling buckets of abalone.
The solicitor pushed for a fine rather than a jail sentence.
The maximum penalty Luu faces in the Joondalup jurisdiction is a $200,000 fine or two years in prison.
He faces a mandatory penalty of $7650.