No pot of gold for illegal commercial crabber

QBFP District Officer Russell Overton investigates excess pots on a commercial crabbing vessel
A Mooloolaba commercial crabber and his business have been fined in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court $19,000 plus $3,650 in costs for crabbing offences.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) District Officer Russell Overton said the fine was for use of too many pots and fishing in a closed season.

'QBFP conducted a search of the crabber’s vessel east of Bribie Island following a tip off from the public,' said Mr Overton.

'We found the crabber using a total of 155 blue swimmer crab pots and associated apparatus, although his licence only permitted him to use 50. Some of his gear was also unmarked.

'The excess crab pots were seized, with 55 forfeited to the State and the remaining 50 pots may be returned to the crabber if he can demonstrate he can operate them legally from a second vessel he owns.

'QBFP will be requesting to destroy the excess gear to serve as a reminder to those considering illegal fishing.

'Approximately 93% of commercially caught blue swimmer crabs on the east coast of Queensland come from the Sunshine Coast to Fraser Island and Moreton Bay region, which highlights the commercial importance of crabbing to this area.

'On a separate occasion, the same commercial crabber was found fishing in the spanner crab fishery during the closed season.

'The severity of the fine demonstrates the seriousness of the offences, which have the potential to impact on the sustainability of our crabbing fisheries.'

Mr Overton said fishing rules for gear and closed seasons are in place for both commercial and recreational fishers to protect our fisheries resources.

'The crabber’s illegal activities posed a threat not only to the spanner crab breeding population, but he also stood to profit from beating law-abiding commercial fishers to the markets,' he said.

'It’s important that everyone abides by the rules to assist long-term sustainability and resource sharing.'

If anyone suspects illegal fishing, please report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116 so that it can be investigated.

For more information on fishing rules, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

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