TWO brothers were fined more than $6000 after pleading guilty in the Cleveland Magistrates’ Court to using excess crab pots in a Moreton Bay Marine Park conservation zone.
The brothers, aged 18 and 19, were intercepted in a targeted operation by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officers and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol Officers in December 2015. QPWS principal ranger Alan Dyball said they were intercepted on the water in the Pumicestone Passage – Goodwin Beach conservation park zone off Sandstone Point following two days of surveillance.
“One brother was observed and recorded working 23 crab pots on the day of intercept while the other brother was observed and recorded working 15 crab pots,” Mr Dyball said. “Under the Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 2008, fishers are limited to a maximum of four crab pots per person in conservation park zones.”
Mr Dyball said the brothers admitted they had worked their crab pots in the conservation zone for at least two weeks prior to being intercepted. “Thirty crab pots and 53 sand crabs were seized as part of the operation,” he said. “The majority of crab pots were not compliant with identification requirements under the Fisheries Act 1994, so they were also issued with infringement notices by QBFP. One brother was fined $4000 for two counts of wilfully entering or using a marine park for a prohibited purpose (contrary to section 43 Marine Parks Act 2004). The other brother was fined $2500 for one count of wilfully entering or using a marine park for a prohibited purpose (contrary to section 43 Marine Parks Act 2004). Both brothers were also ordered to pay $750 in court costs and $1510.50 in investigative costs.”
Mr Dyball said the men admitted using extra crab pots purely to increase their catch. “Both brothers hold current Queensland commercial fisher licences and it is disappointing that these wilful offences have occurred,” he said. “Illegal activity such as this steals from everyone and ultimately impacts on the catches of honest commercial and recreational fishers. These fines are a deterrent to anyone who thinks they can break the rules designed to protect our marine parks and fishing resources. Fishers must comply with the rules and vessels can be boarded at any time by QPWS officers or QBFP officers. The community plays a very important role as the eyes and ears of our parks and resources.”
Anyone wishing to report illegal fishing activity can contact Fishwatch on 1800 017 116, or to report other illegal activity in the park, contact 13 QGOV (13 74 68). As no conviction was recorded, under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 the government is unable to name the defendants in this case.