Angler’s not fine with groper catch penalty

NOT FINE: Bundaberg fisherman Dwane Austerberry was recently fined for catching a groper and is not impressed by the way he has been treated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
NOT FINE: Bundaberg fisherman Dwane Austerberry was recently fined for catching a groper and is not impressed by the way he has been treated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

DWANE Austerberry has complained about the fine he was given by the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) after posting a video and photo of a Queensland groper catch and release to Facebook.

On Thursday, the NewsMail reported two Bundaberg anglers had been fined for possessing the protected species, with the QBFP stating the groper was fought to the point of exhaustion.

Mr Austerberry said the claims were incorrect and believed he was not given the chance to tell his side of the story to QBFP.

"My brother and I have been fishing at a particular spot along the river in East Bundaberg for a while now and we kept getting snapped off by something," he said.

"We thought it must have been a shark so the next time we went down we decided to try and catch it."

The pair used a rope and homemade hook to bring in the beast, only to realise the fish was actually a massive groper.

"We were excited. It is a once in a lifetime experience to see a groper up close which is why we took a quick photo and video," he said.

"We both know that gropers are protected so we grabbed the hook out of its mouth and away it went," he said.

"We did not intentionally try to target this particular fish and we were very quick to release it back into the water."

Mr Austerberry and his brother were under investigation by the QBFP before being fined $455 each.

"We had no idea the photo and video were being investigated until we received the fine," he said.

"I think we should have been warned and given a bit of a slap on the wrist but to get fined is definitely a bit rich."

Mr Austerberry spoke to the QBFP yesterday afternoon to find out more information about the fine but was told the matter could not be discussed.

"They told me that I would have to direct any complaints in writing to the Brisbane office, which is exactly what I plan to do," he said.

The QBFP stated on its Facebook page that Queensland groper are a "no take" species and must be released immediately to the water to protect their health.

"By removing large fish from the water onto the bank injury can occur to internal organs, gills, eyes etc, so even though they are subsequently released and are then seen to swim away, they may still die from internal injuries sustained," the post said.

"Before fishers take a photo of a regulated fish, they need to consider the safest way they are going to handle the fish to ensure its survival."

Topics:  editors picks fishing outdoor-living queensland boating and fisheries patrol

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