Man fined nearly $10,000 for multiple cray-fishing breaches

Stock image.
Stock image.

A MAN who was fined nearly $10,000 for crayfishing offences has claimed he used excess pots to lessen the risk of spending money on boat fuel and not catching anything.

Kevin Wayne Gray faced Joondalup Magistrates Court on Friday, pleading guilty to 16 charges he accumulated in just eight days off Mindarie Marina from December 9 to 17, 2016.

He fished with too many pots on three occasions.

Gray’s lawyer said his acts stemmed from “his love of fishing”.

He said his client didn’t want to spend “$50 in fuel… with the risk of not getting anything”.

The court also heard Gray attempted a sneaky way of flouting bag limit laws.

A Fisheries prosecutor explained Gray would return to shore with the correct bag limit, but it would not be a true indication of what he had caught.

Out at sea, he had not returned his excess crayfish to the wild.

Instead, he had put them in holding pots and dropped them back into the water to collect on his next boat trip.

The crayfish could not escape the pots.

Gray admitted to doing this on two fishing trips that month.

On one occasion, he caught 38 lobsters, put 14 in a holding pot at sea and returned to shore with the allowed 24.

Magistrate Deen Potter told Gray that if everyone took that approach then crayfish would “simply be staying in holding pots” rather than being “free to do what crayfish do”.

On a third fishing trip, Gray admitted to catching 30 crayfish and leaving eight in a bucket on Mindarie jetty to collect later.

He caught 88 lobsters in total, which was 24 in excess of what he was allowed.

He also admitted to using incorrect identification on his pots and stealing a pot that was not his.

Gray’s lawyer said his client’s age was “pushing 70” and that he was on a disability pension.

He claimed Fisheries officers should have stepped in earlier instead of monitoring his activity.

“If Fisheries had stepped in earlier they would have been able to prevent the multiple breaches,” he said.

“He accepts that his crayfishing days are over.”

Mr Potter accepted that fishing was a “very important aspect” of Gray’s life and understood that he would find it difficult to pay fines.

But he said he needed to set a penalty that would deter others.

He fined Gray $9750, banned him from cray fishing for two years and demanded he forfeit the five craypots he owned.

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