FISHERIES and marine officers have wrapped up two significant prosecutions involving illegal sale of western rock lobsters this month.
In Perth Magistrate’s Court on August 9, Jason Kevin Smith (48), of Kingsley, was found guilty of 16 charges and ordered to pay $75,264 in fines, mandatory penalties and costs.
The magistrate also ruled that he forfeit $38,500 being held as security against a returned seized vessel.
The court heard that during a search of Smith’s residence on February 7, 2016, 26 plastic containers holding 13.69kg of processed rock lobster flesh were located in the kitchen freezer and that on two other occasions in December and January Smith had illegally sold a total of 15 whole lobsters and 22 cooked lobster tails from his home.
During the search, Fisheries officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development also seized records which through forensic examination and further enquiries proved more than 11 illegal sales of rock lobster.
It was established that paellas sold via a catering business owned by Smith in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster sections or flesh.
Smith was also charged for fishing for lobster using more than two pots, contrary to regulations for any holder of a recreational rock lobster fishing licence.
In a separate case on August 6 in Fremantle Court, Carmelo Pensabene (75) from Hamilton Hill pleaded guilty and was issued with fines, penalties and costs totalling $36,088.30.
The court also granted the department’s application to suspend his recreational boat fishing licence and recreational rock lobster fishing licence, ordering an eight-month suspension for both.
The court was told that on five separate occasions he either sold, or offered for sale, a total of 87 rock lobster or rock lobster tails and, when a search warrant was executed on his residence, he was found in possession of eight unclipped tails and 3.72kg of tail flesh.
Recreational fishers who take and keep any rock lobster must tail clip or tail punch the rock lobster and are not allowed to store rock lobster flesh, unless it is being consumed or prepared for immediate consumption.
Metropolitan compliance manager Todd A’Vard said both cases were serious and a reminder that fisheries and marine officers had the expertise and resources to carry out complex investigations to secure illegal seafood sales convictions.
“It is illegal to sell or barter with recreationally-caught fish in WA,” he said.
“Individuals with trafficable amounts in priority fish, like abalone and rock lobster, could face four year’s imprisonment or fines up to $400,000, as well as court orders, licence suspensions and vehicle or vessel forfeitures.
“Body corporates may be fined up to $800,000 for trafficking.”
Anyone who suspects illegal fishing activity or sales can call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.