Boaties in strife for breaking fishing rules

MORETON BAY: The bay is a great place to go boating but dodging fisheries officers can get people into trouble.
MORETON BAY: The bay is a great place to go boating but dodging fisheries officers can get people into trouble.

A BRISBANE boat skipper who refused to stop his vessel and motored off on the Logan River has been fined $1500 for obstructing fisheries officers.

Beenleigh Magistrate’s Court imposed the penalty for a charge of obstruction, an offence under fisheries laws which has a maximum penalty of $126,150.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol field officer James Hohenhaus said officers were on patrol near the Alberton Boat Ramp in the early hours of a morning in August last year.

“A vessel was being put onto a boat trailer and while fisheries officers were speaking with the vehicle’s driver, the boat was reversed into the Logan River,” Mr Hohenhaus said.

“Despite being directed to stop, the vessel’s master continued downstream without navigation lights on and failed to return to the boat ramp.

“The boat skipper deliberately obstructed fisheries officers in the course of their investigation. His actions meant we could not inspect the ... fishing catch.”

Mr Hohenhaus said fisheries officers have powers under the Fisheries Act 1994 to stop and search a vessel.

“This is a reminder that any person who obstructs an officer from doing their duty can be prosecuted,” he said.

“It’s important that everyone abides by the rules as fisheries officers carry out the important task of protecting Queensland’s valuable fisheries stocks from exploitation.”

If anyone suspects illegal fishing activity, they should report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116 so that it can be investigated.

Meantime, two commercial fishers were found guilty in the Gladstone Magistrates Court for netting offences in the Port of Gladstone-Rodd’s Bay dugong protection area and were fined close to $10,000.

QBFP investigator Deryk Smith said that in April last year, officers intercepted the fishers as they were pulling up their boat at the Gladstone Yacht Club boat ramp.

“The officers found evidence of nets having been set in the DPA, including information on a chart plotter,” Mr Smith said.

“The officers instructed the fishers not to relaunch, or go anywhere near the locations identified on the plotter.

“Despite this, QBFP officers found evidence that the fishers had defied these instructions by returning to the water, and pulling up or tampering with nets.”

Officers found unmarked and unlit nets, including one net that appeared to have just had its anchor rope cut. Officers also observed the defendants’ boat leaving at high speed.

Officers found barramundi, shark and a turtle, all of which were released.

One of the men received a $6000 fine, with no conviction recorded. The second man received a $3500 fine, with no conviction recorded.

To report suspected illegal fishing activity, call the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.