Fisheries minister warns against ‘un-Australian’ rock lobster theft

Fisheries minister warns against ‘un-Australian’ rock lobster theft

PEOPLE who interfere with other fishers’ rock lobster pots face having their boat seized as well as other severe penalties, Fisheries Minister Joe Francis has warned.

“Pulling rock lobster pots that aren’t yours and stealing the catch is a low act. It’s theft, and it’s un-Australian,” Mr Francis said.

“Already this season, Fisheries officers have seized seven boats belonging to people accused of lobster pot interference and other rock lobster-related offences.

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

“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.”

Mr Francis said the hundreds of thousands of recreational fishers who did the right thing were reaping the benefits of their licence fees, which were reinvested into initiatives such as an artificial reef off Rottnest Island.

“Located six nautical miles south of the island and due to be completed early next week, the artificial reef consists of two 12 metre-high steel modules designed to attract species such as pink snapper, yellowtail kingfish and samson fish,” he said.

“The $853,000 project is funded by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund which receives 25 per cent of all recreational fishing licence fees in Western Australia.

“RFIF is all about putting licence fees to work and the result is initiatives such as the south Rottnest artificial reef and numerous other projects up and down the coast.”

To report any suspected illegal fishing activity call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.