Fisheries minister warns against lobster theft

Fisheries minister warns against lobster theft

GENERALLY, a boat has a higher value than a crayfish.

But for some seafarers, lobster theft is seemingly worth the risk of losing their vessels.

Department of Fisheries officers have seized seven boats since the crayfishing season began in October, alleging occupants had interfered with other fishers’ craypots.

Fisheries Minister Joe Francis described it as a “low act”.

“Those people now face the prospect of having their boat confiscated and they could also lose their vehicle and fishing equipment,” he said.

“In the most serious cases, illegal fishing offences can result in penalties of up to $400,000 or four years in jail.

“Fisheries officers are out there watching day and night – it’s just not worth doing the wrong thing.”

He talked of the importance of fishing licence fees, reminding fishers that 25 per cent of their registration costs went to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

The fund’s latest development is an $853,000 artificial reef off Rottnest due for completion this month.

“Located six nautical miles south of the island, the artificial reef consists of two 12m-high steel modules designed to attract species such as pink snapper, yellowtail kingfish and samson fish,” Mr Francis said.

Fishing licence fees raise about $7.7 million a year.

Illegal fishing activity can be reported to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.