Commercial crabber fined $109,000, loses boat and licence

A commercial crabber has been fined $109,000 with his fishing boat confiscated and licence suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to 24 offences in the Maryborough Magistrates Court this week.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) district manager Greg Bowness said the significant penalties should send a clear message to others that serious breaches of fisheries legislation will not be tolerated.

'The fisherman has been charged with numerous counts of unlawful possession of regulated fish and interference with crab pots, in three separate incidents over a nine month period,' Mr Bowness said.

'In March last year, fisheries officers went to the offender’s home and found 31 undersize mud crabs, 200 female mud crab claws, 371 mud crab halves and three female mud crabs.

'The number of crabs found clearly indicates that they were likely to be sold on the black market rather than through legal channels.

'A second incident occurred in November, when officers patrolling waters near Fraser Island, found 27 undersize fish on board a commercial fishing vessel, believed to be for the purpose of baiting crab pots.

'The third incident involved interference with a number of crab pots belonging to other commercial fishers.

'In this case, QBFP acted in response to complaints from commercial fishers and set up their own surveillance operation.'

Mr Bowness said that all fishers are responsible for knowing the rules for fishing and sticking to them.

'The order for the forfeit of the fishing vessel and licence suspension sends out a clear message to the fisher and others who might be tempted to commit such offences in the future,' he said.

'We encourage people to report unlawful or suspicious fishing activities by calling the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.'

For more information on Queensland fishing rules, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

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