A PROFESSIONAL rock lobster fisherman has had his licence suspended after he was caught interfering with someone else’s lobster pots by fisheries and marine officers in waters west of Lancelin.
State Administrative Tribunal President Justice Curthoys handed down a decision to suspend professional rock lobster fisherman Daniel Christian Pentreath’s licence for eight months, to deter others from engaging in similar conduct, on Friday, October 21.
Afterwards the Department of Fisheries said the tribunal had supported the department’s right to temporarily remove a commercial fisherman’s licence for dishonest conduct.
In the Joondalup Magistrates Court on Friday, August 7 Pentreath had pleaded guilty and was fined $5000, including costs, for interfering with fishing gear (four lobster pots), when he was neither the owner of that gear, nor acting with the authority of the gear’s owner, when apprehended by fisheries and marine officers in waters west of Lancelin.
Department of Fisheries north metropolitan compliance manager Todd A’Vard said the tribunal had accepted the department had a long standing policy of suspending licences in similar circumstances and, having regard to Pentreath’s personal circumstances, ordered that the suspension start on January 14 when the new commercial quota season began.
Mr A’Vard said the tribunal concluded the conduct Pentreath showed was dishonest, in that using pots he did not own and he was not authorised to use was a serious offence, one which created distrust amongst fishers and was detrimental to the social harmony of the industry.
He said the decision was a timely reminder to all, as the department’s officers were now targeting rock lobster pot interference under Operation Bagana.
“Most fishers, commercial and recreational, are aware of the potentially high fines and forfeitures of vessels and fishing gear as a consequence of prosecution for serious offences,” he said.
“What many people don’t realise is that fishing under a licence is a privilege – not a right.
“In addition to any court imposed penalty, fishers who do not demonstrate the professional standards expected by industry or the values expected by the community, face the very real prospect of losing the privilege of engaging in that licensed fishing activity.
“The department will continue to take a strong stance on gear interference and appreciates the support from industry and the community to report offenders.
“We ask anyone with information about illegal fishing activities to not get involved, but to carefully observe what you see and give FishWatch a call on 1800 815 507.”