Rockingham man fined thousands for ‘inexcusable’ illegal abalone catch

Stock image
Stock image

A MAGISTRATE at Rockingham Magistrates Court described the actions of a man who illegally fished for abalone in the Seal Island Sanctuary Zone as “inexcusable”.

The 56-year-old man was ordered to pay $14,629 in fines and court costs after being found guilty of possessing 132 Roe’s abalone from illegal fishing activity.

Evidence presented to the court last Friday, June 23 included how Department of Parks and Wildlife fisheries officers were on a patrol vessel in February 2015, and saw the offender fishing for abalone behind a rock.

The Rockingham man ignored the officers’ instructions and began to walk away along the reef platform on the southern side of Seal Island.

The man paused to discard of two green mesh bags in a hole in the reef platform.

One of the officers swam ashore and recovered the mesh bags, which contained 132 Roe’s abalone and two turban shells.

Twenty-eight of the abalone were undersize.

Rockingham-based supervising Fisheries and Marine officer Darren Schofield said Shag Rock, the reef platform and immediate waters, were part of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

“During the West Coast Zone abalone fishing seasons, abalone can be taken within the marine park, except from sanctuary zones and also Murray Reef,” he said.

“The reef platform at Shag Rock and its immediate waters are a part of the Seal Island Sanctuary Zone, where the taking of abalone is prohibited all year round.”

Mr Schofield said the detection and apprehension of the offender resulted from a joint operation between Fisheries officers and Parks and Wildlife officers.

“The majority of recreational fishers do the right thing and provide good stewardship, realising that rules around abalone fishing are designed to keeps stocks sustainable,” he said.

Visit www.fish.wa.gov.au for information on rules and limits.

Anyone with information on illegal fishing activity should call FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

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