Yanchep man fined for black market rock lobsters

People caught selling rock lobsters and other seafood on the black market can be fined or potentially spend time in jail. Picture: DPIRD

A YANCHEP man has been ordered to $94,409, forfeit some fishing equipment and stay off any vessel fishing for rock lobster for two years for selling rock lobsters on the black market.

In Joondalup Magistrates Court on Wednesday, August 30 Graham Thomas Davies of Yanchep entered guilty pleas of guilty to a number of charges after an investigation by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development fisheries officers.

A department spokesman said the court heard that on December 15, 2015, Davies, 67, illegally sold 20 rock lobster that had been caught recreationally and on January 14, 2016, he illegally sold another 50 recreational rock lobster.

The spokesman said further fisheries investigations revealed that Davies had, on 18 other occasions from November 2015 to March 2016, sold an additional 279 recreationally-caught rock lobster.

Compliance manager Todd A’Vard said that during the execution of search warrants at two residences in April 2016, a 6.4m vessel, plus trailer and 150hp outboard were seized, as well as cooking and processing equipment and supplies.

“This outcome highlights how serious the court considers these offences.

“Whilst on this occasion the vessel and trailer were not forfeited, the significant fines, as well as forfeiture of four rock lobster pots and a GPS and the granting of a court order prohibiting Davies from being on a boat used for rock lobster fishing –  sends a strong message,” he said.

“Commercial fishing is carefully managed by the department, to ensure our most precious Western Australian fish species are sustainably harvested.

“Taking fish and selling them for commercial gain, outside of the licensed fishery, not only jeopardizes the livelihoods of legitimately licensed fishers, but also threatens the sustainability of the fishery.

“Black market fish thieves are on notice – individuals tempted to sell their catch illegally need to consider the risk of receiving large fines and having boats, vehicles and gear seized.

“Seafood trafficking offences also carry a potential of four-years jail – do you want to risk that?”

Anyone who has information on illegal fishing activities, including the black market sale of seafood, is asked to call the FishWatch reporting line 1800 815 507.