TWO Halls Head men have each been fined $8,000 for interfering with commercial crab pots.
On a Thursday night on November 26 last year, a Fisheries and Marine officer saw two people in a small runabout travelling around the Peel-Harvey Estuary and Cox Bay.
Aaron Edwin Pollard (32) and Andrew Michael Collyer (31) were ordered to each pay $8,000 in fines, plus court costs of $169.10, for illegally pulling four commercial crab pots in Cox Bay under the cover of darkness.
A recorded interview was heard in Mandurah court last week, where the men admitted to Fisheries and Marine Officers that they pulled the pots with the intention of “just having a look”.
They did not open any of the pots.
Magistrate Vivien Edwards accepted the serious nature of the offences and spoke of the impact the matter had on the professional fisherman.
The court was told that the commercial fisher checked his pots the day after the interference.
He found some of them upside down and others relocated from where he had set the pots and they did not contain any legal size crabs, while his other pots nearby which had not been interfered with, did.
Department of Fisheries South Metropolitan Compliance Manager Ryan Parker said Fisheries and Marine Officers would continue to work with commercial fishing operators to identify and charge any people found interfering with commercial crab pots.
“The commercial fishers operating in the Peel Harvey region supply their catches to the Mandurah and Perth markets and, as small independent operators, suffer major disruption and financial costs if their pots are disturbed or damaged,” Mr Parker said.
“Commercial crab fishers here talk about the stress they suffer when this happens; wondering how they can make a viable living, while protecting their fishing gear and the emotional and financial toll that pressure brings their small family-run businesses.
“The fines issued by the court should be a warning to anyone who interferes with fishing gear belonging to others.
“People should also be aware that, in addition to any penalties ordered by a court, those who do not respect the property and rights of fishers face the real prospect of losing the privilege of engaging in licensed recreational fishing activities.”
Anyone who has information on illegal fishing activities is asked to call the FISHWATCH reporting line 1800 815 507 or contact the Department of Fisheries in Mandurah.