Illegal rock lobster trade busted


Fisheries seized 90 rock lobsters allegedly illegally caught by recreational fishers in Yanchep.
Fisheries seized 90 rock lobsters allegedly illegally caught by recreational fishers in Yanchep.

FISHERIES and marine officers recently executed search warrants at two residences in Yanchep as part of an ongoing operational focus on alleged illegal trade in rock lobsters.

The Department of Fisheries north metropolitan region acting compliance manager Ryan Parker said the April 5 raids followed the execution of multiple warrants and continuing enquires in recent months.

“Extensive operations have been carried out to identify people who allegedly fish as recreational fishers and then sell their catch illegally, including by filtering catch through commercial seafood-related businesses,” he said.

“In WA, the sale or barter of recreationally caught fish, of any species, is illegal and considered to be at the highest level of offending.”

Mr Parker said the raids led to the seizure of more than 90 rock lobsters, processing equipment and a vessel.

“A number of people are being investigated, with a view to prosecution on a range of charges,” he said.

According to the department, WA’s commercial rock lobster fishery is well-established fishery, certified by the international Marine Stewardship Council, and commercial fishers pay high access fees and other overheads.

In its statement, it said black market activities “strike at the heart of, and the intent and operation of, the State’s fishing laws”, eroding the rights of legitimate fishers.

Proven offenders face fines of up to $400,000 and four years imprisonment, as well as possible licence suspensions and potential vehicle and vessel forfeitures.

Anyone with information on illegal fishing activities can call the FISHWATCH reporting line 1800 815 507.