WA Department of Fisheries roadside checks net 29 people

Department of Fisheries WA
. .
Western Australian Department of Fisheries investigations are continuing into several alleged fisheries offences, following roadside checks carried out as part of a joint operation with Mandurah Police this week.

WA Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer Darren Schofield said a total of 29 people were apprehended, during the seven-hour operation on Tuesday afternoon and through the evening (25 January 2011).

'Given that the weather was not particularly conducive to fishing that day, I was surprised with the number of people we came across who we have warned, fined or are investigating further over a range of fisheries matters,' Mr Schofield said.

'We issued 12 warnings, 14 infringement notices (which each attract a $200 fine) and nine people are likely to face court over alleged offences.

'Some individuals received more than one infringement notice for breaching fishing rules.'

Mr Schofield said Fisheries and Marine Officers located 89 undersize crabs in one vehicle and each of the occupants could expect to be charged.

'Not only do each of them face a potential fine of up to $5,000, if they are convicted they would also each have to pay a mandatory penalty of $40 per crab and that penalty alone works out to be $3,560 per person,' he said.

'In a separate apprehension during the operation, we located 44 undersize crabs in another vehicle and the four occupants are being investigated with a view to court action.'

Mr Schofield said local Fisheries and Marine Officers were keen to join Police in roadside operations, when the opportunities arose, but they also had the potential to conduct vehicle checks at other times as well.

'I was disappointed with the number of people who were found with undersize crabs, because these are the fish for the future and taking them represents a major concern for the sustainability of the fishery,' he said.

'Mandurah crabs are a community resource and those people who breach the rules and take too many, or take them when they are too small, are putting everybody’s enjoyment of the fishery at risk.'

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