Peter Duncan pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to two offences after his trawler passed through a scientific zone on the Great Barrier Reef.
Peter Duncan pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to two offences after his trawler passed through a scientific zone on the Great Barrier Reef.

Man fined after passing through ‘ecologically fragile’ zone

A MAN has learnt the hard way how important it is to have his fishing maps up to date after receiving a large fine in court.

Peter Maurice Duncan pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to two counts of engaging in conduct in a zone/under zoning plan that is prohibited or requires permission.

The court heard Duncan had passed through a scientific research zone which was part of the Great Barrier Reef marine park on both May 28 and 29 last year.

On May 28, Duncan navigated a trawler in the zone for two minutes for 189 metres.

The next day, Duncan was in the zone for about 13 minutes.

On both occasions Duncan’s did not have prior permission to be in the zone and was detected through a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

The Commonwealth prosecutor told the court the zones were essential to the maintenance of the natural processes, resilience and biodiversity of the marine park.

He said the marine park was an “ecologically fragile” area.

Duncan’s lawyer told the court his client was no allegation of trawling through the area and was just passing through.

He said Duncan was unaware legislation had changed preventing trawling boats from passing through the zone.

The court heard Duncan got in touch with the company to ask them for an update but the company were also unaware the legislation had changed and thought their digitised mapping was correct.

Duncan now has the maps updated with the latest zoning areas.

His lawyer said Duncan regretted what he had done and was apologetic.

Magistrate Ross Woodford took into account Duncan’s plea of guilty and accepted it came at an early opportunity.

Mr Woodford also took into account the facts and circumstances around the offence and that he was not trawling in the area.

Duncan was fined $2000 and was ordered to pay $101.80 in court costs.

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