Man ordered to pay nearly $3000 for illegal lobster fishing off Rottnest and obstructing Fisheries officer

File picture.
File picture.

A MAN who jumped back in the water off Rottnest with his illegal lobster catch when he saw Fisheries officers approaching his boat has been ordered to pay nearly $3000 in Fremantle Magistrate’s Court.

Matthew Ian Curran (27) was found guilty on Friday of fishing illegally and obstruction after the court heard he surfaced in the West End protected area on a Monday afternoon in March and placed a catch bag into a boat.

When officers approached to inspect, he picked up the bag and jumped back into the sea.

Curran then released the catch, which he later admitted in a video interview with officers was about three to four rock lobsters, and allowed the bag to sink.

Through this action he was charged with obstruction, fishing illegally (with a lobster hookah) in a marine protected area and not having a current recreational rock lobster fishing licence.

The Queenslander was fined $2000 and ordered to pay $750 as a mandatory additional penalty for the rock lobster, along with court costs of $205.30.

Supervising Fisheries and Marine officer Mark Kleeman said the fine reflected the seriousness of illegal fishing in a protected area and obstructing an officer.

“It’s an offence to obstruct or hinder a Fisheries officer when they are performing any duty or exercising any power under WA’s fishing legislation.” Mr Kleeman said.

“This case also highlights the need for people to be aware of marine protected areas.

“Some of the protected areas are off limits to all fishing, whereas limited types of fishing activity are allowed in others, so get to know what protected areas there are in your part of the State.”

He said there were five protected areas around Rottnest Island: West End, Kingston Reef, Armstrong Bay, Green Island and Parker Point.