Crabbers mobilise against thieves
A BUNDABERG tackle shop manager has called for a heightened Fisheries Queensland presence in local waterways to thwart a rise in crab pot thefts.
Tackle World Bundaberg manager Ben Shorten said the high incidence of crab pot theft in the region highlighted a need for more Fisheries' officers in the region.
"We need to have a far heavier policing presence around here," he said.
"You ask an angler how often they see Fisheries out and about, it's not real often."
Retired commercial fisherman John Loveday had hoped to enjoy a nice feed of fresh mud crab with his wife Pat over the New Year's long weekend.
Mr Loveday set his crab pots off the banks of the Burnett River last Tuesday hopeful of snaring a large muddie but returned later that afternoon to find one of the pots had been stolen - in broad daylight.
"How these low-lifes have the hide to steal like this in the middle of the day I will never know."
Mr Loveday has joined a loud chorus of frustrated crabbers in the Bundaberg region calling for a reappraisal of legislation concerning crab pots.
Under current legislation, crab pots must be set in waterways with buoyant, light-coloured floats and be affixed with a tag containing the crabber's personal details.
Mr Loveday, and a growing number of crabbers in the region, believes the legislation is contributing to an increase in theft because of the ease in locating others' crab pots.
It is understood many crabbers now set their pots illegally without the use of floats because of the high theft rate in the region.
"If they can't see the float then they don't know where your pot is," he said.
"It would take away the temptation of it for them."
Mr Loveday believed opportunistic thieves who were tempted by the thought of a tasty buck were a large part of the problem.
"I don't think it's always people directly targeting pots," he said.
"Sometimes I think it's people just passing by that are tempted and grab a hold of one," he said.
Mr Loveday said the issue of crab pot theft had long been a sore point for crabbers and fishers in the Bundaberg region.
"It's a bloody low act," he said.
"I don't think it's any different from them coming into my backyard and stealing my lawn mower, or something."
A representative for Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace reminded would-be thieves they faced on-the-spot fines of up to $1000, and a maximum penalty of $50,000 for interfering with a fishing apparatus.
Thefts should be reported to the 24-hour Fishwatch Hotline on 1800 017 116.