A RECREATIONAL fisher has been fined $30,000 in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court for fishing during the coral reef fin fish closed season and for exceeding possession limits.
The matter was heard on Monday despite fisher Richard Kaddour failing to appear.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) district manager Greg Bowness said the heavy fine reflected the serious nature of the offenses.
"The fisher was caught in the early hours of the morning at Round Hill Creek, Town of 1770, with commercial quantities of fish believed to be intended to be sold on the black market," Mr Bowness said.
The fisher was found in possession of:
- 116 coral reef fin fish during the closed season
- Six skinless fillets
- 93 coral reef fin fish in excess of the combined possession limit of 20
- Three sharks in excess of the possession limit of one
- 33 pearl perch in excess of the possession limit of five
- Two Samson fish in excess of the possession limit of two
"In addition, nine of these fish were undersized.
"The fisher was charged $17,500 for three offences related to fishing during the closed season, possessing skinned fillets and possessing fish not complying with size and possession limits.
"An additional penalty of $12,500 (five times the commercial value of the catch) was also imposed, plus court costs."
Mr Bowness said the conviction was the result of an extensive investigation into suspected black market fishing activities in the 1770/Agnes Water area.
"Fisheries officers from Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, as well as the Surveillance and Investigation Unit worked together to execute the operation," he said.
"Black marketing undermines the viability of commercial fishing, deters job creating investment in commercial fishing, and impacts on the competiveness of legitimate seafood processors and marketers.
"It also places additional pressure on the sustainability of fish species as there is a cash incentive for black marketers to take more fish than they would if they were fishing for recreational purposes.
"It is critical that the public reports any suspected illegal fishing activities to Fishwatch on 1800 017 116, including black marketing and fishing during closed seasons, so QBFP can establish a pattern of offences and effectively target the culprits."
There are two five-day coral reef fin fish closed seasons in Queensland in October and November each year.
The next closure period runs from November 19-23, coinciding with the full moon when coral reef fin fish spawn.
For more information on Queensland fishing closures and size and possession limits, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free 'Qld Fishing' app from Apple and Google app stores.