Costly fishing mix-up

A PAPERWORK mix-up has proven expensive for Bundaberg company Agnes Fisheries.

The company was fined $15,000 in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday for fishing commercially without a licence.

The prawn trawler Roper Therese was boarded in waters off Weipa on April 17 last year, and more than $94,000 worth of prawns were seized when it was found the trawler did not have the correct licence.

Approval for the licence was issued the next day and fishing was resumed legally.

The court was told the trawler had been operating in the area since March 26, 2008.

The company pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting the identical charges against the company's director Roger Martin, 44, and boat skipper, Corey Edwards, 36, of the Sunshine Coast, to be withdrawn.

Mr Martin said the issue had sprung from a misunderstanding.

“I thought it (the licence) was being approved and I didn't have the correct paperwork at the time we were boarded,” he said.

Mr Martin accepted the fact the company was in the wrong, despite being able to fish legally the next day.

“The whole scenario smells a bit, but at the end of the day I'm at fault,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) said the boat had been intercepted as a part of regular patrols conducted by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers.

“At that time (the vessel was boarded) it was found that the vessel was unlicensed, and the vessel was ordered to cease fishing. Although an application for the necessary approvals had been made prior to this to AFMA, the vessel should not have commenced fishing until it had received the required approval to fish, which was not granted by AFMA until 18 April,” they said.

For more information on commercial fishing licences visit www.afma.gov.au.



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