TWO small fishing boats have been seized in Mandurah and Rockingham this week for alleged interference with fishing gear as part of a blitz on rock lobster offences.
Fisheries and Marine Officers as part Operation Bagana seized the recreational vessels from Mandurah on Tuesday and Rockingham on Wednesday.
Compliance manager south metropolitan John Breeden said this season’s forecast was for bumper catches and there were no excuses for stealing gear or lobsters from other fishers.
“Buy your own fishing gear and a licence, learn the rules and get out there; enjoy one of Australia’s best managed fisheries and catch your own gourmet seafood product,” Mr Breeden said.
“Leave other fishers’ gear alone, or be prepared to face the consequences.”
Mandurah’s supervising fisheries and marine officer Jay Tonkin said the Department had mobilised significant resources for the operation.
“The community has strong views against rock lobster pot interference and we take their concerns seriously,” Mr Tonkin said.
“Commit a serious offence you risk losing your boat; it’s that simple.
“Many Mandurah fishers will have seen the seized vessel now being used in an education role at various town boat ramps, to remind people of the potential consequences of breaking the rules.”
He said rock lobster fishing was a highly valued activity.
“It is part of WA’s lifestyle for many people living in Perth and coastal communities,” he said.
A Department spokesman said investigations related to both vessel seizures were continuing, with a view to charges being laid.
Last Tuesday two men pleaded guilty and were fined for gear interference offences from last season around Rottnest Island.
A 53-year-old Hillarys man received fines and costs of $1688, while a 32-year-old man from Nedlands was ordered to pay a total of $2169.
Both men had been unaware their every move was being carefully watched by fisheries officers.
Anyone with information about illegal fishing activities is urged not to get involved, but to carefully observe what they see and call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.
Information to support the ongoing Operation Bagana will assist fisheries officers to target and catch fish thieves.
Mr Breeden said in addition to any court imposed penalty, people who did not demonstrate the values expected by the fishing community faced the prospect of losing the privilege of engaging in licensed fishing activity by having their recreational licences suspended or refused.
More information on rules and limits is available in the Recreational fishing for rock lobster guide, at www.fish.wa.gov.au, or from departmental offices or information outlets.