Divers fined for taking rock lobster with spear guns

Two Warrnambool men were fined $1,000 each in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court last week after pleading guilty to using hand spears to take local rock lobster and other fisheries offences late last year.

On November 20 last year, the two defendants, aged 24 and 25 respectively, were observed snorkeling together near Thunder Point, Warrnambool.

They were observed and photographed by Fisheries Officers as they took a number of rock lobster together using a hand spear and placing them in a bag hidden in among the rocks.

After about an hour the two men packed up their catch, changed out of their wetsuits and returned to the car park where upon they were intercepted by the Fisheries Officers.

Senior Fisheries Officer Ian Westhorpe told the court that the Officers found a total of six rock lobsters, of which all but one were undersize, the smallest female only measuring 77mm instead of the required 105mm.

The smallest male rock lobster only measured 81mm instead of the required 110mm. The men also pleaded guilty to exceeding the daily bag limit of two and failing to have a current Recreational Fishing License.

Both men represented themselves and in their plea to Magistrate Klestadt claimed that they had 'no idea' about the size and catch limits and the ban on using spears to take rock lobsters.

Mr Klestadt told the defendants that their excuses were not convincing as they had both held Recreational Fishing Licenses in the past.

The men were fined $1000 each without conviction and ordered to pay statutory costs of $86 each. Mr Klestadt also ordered their seized diving equipment be forfeited.

In a separate matter, on the same day in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court, an 18-year-old man from Melton West was also fined $750 without conviction after pleading guilty to using prohibited equipment in the form of a spear gun to take rock lobster.

Mr Westhorpe told the court that on November 18 last year, just west of Port Fairy, the man was inspected by Fisheries Officers as he returned to his vehicle.

The inspection revealed two rock lobsters that showed signs of being speared by a spear.

DPI Victoria