WA coast: Fisheries officers use telescopes to clamp down on illegal crayfishing

File picture.
File picture.

FISHERIES officers are using high-powered telescopes to crack down on illegal crayfishing.

Joondalup Magistrates Court heard last month how officers used the equipment to observe a man interfere with two lobster pots west of Hillarys Boat Harbour last December.

When later questioned, his vessel’s chart plotter was used to locate the pots that had been illegally accessed as well as two pots that belonged to the man. The pots he owned were seized.

At the time, 37-year-old Cameron George Hartlieb, of Craigie, did not hold a current rock lobster fishing licence.

The magistrate fined him $2500 for three offences and was ordered to pay court costs of $205.30. He was also banned from holding a rock lobster licence, or being aboard a boat fishing for lobster, for 12 months. The two seized lobster pots were forfeited.

Meanwhile, a magistrate in Rockingham Court has ordered a Spearwood man to pay $12,181 in fines and costs, for interfering with lobster pots.

When he committed the offence in January last year, 73-year-old Angelo De Robertis had his vessel seized by Fisheries and Marine officers. However, the vessel was not forfeited in this case. In handing down the ruling last month, the magistrate took into account De Robertis had lost the use of his vessel for more than 20 months.

The owner of the rock lobster pots had confronted De Robertis as he removed a rock lobster from one of the owner’s pots. The court was told that, under the direction of the owner, the offender replaced a western rock lobster back into the pot and dropped it back in the water for the owner to retrieve.

The owner later lodged a complaint with FishWatch and a search warrant was executed at the Spearwood home of DeRobertis, at which time he admitted to pulling the pot, but claimed he was untangling it.

Details on WA’s fishing rules can be found at fish.wa.gov.au.

To report suspicious behaviour, call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.