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Lobster Fishers Fined A Total Of $11,756

Ken A

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Two lobster fishers were fined a total of $11,756 when they appeared in Taree Local Court last week on 12 charges.

One also faces the loss of his lobster licence after accumulating demerit points.

‘The two were observed by Fisheries officers on three occasions while they were fishing at Crowdy Head,’ the Department of Primary Industries Manager Special Operations Tony Andrews said.

‘They were observed committing a number of offences relating to the rock lobster fishery including failing to tag the lobsters, failing to complete daily log sheets and not marking their lobster holding pens.

‘All lobsters must be tagged by commercial fishers, as part of the quota management system, to avoid fraud.

‘The lobster fishery in NSW is a share-management fishery that operates under a strict management plan. As part of the plan, each commercial fisher is allocated a yearly quota of lobsters, each of which must be tagged as soon as it is caught.’

Mr Andrews said NSW DPI Fisheries Officers regularly patrol Crowdy Bay Harbour and other local waterways to help ensure everyone is obeying fishing rules and size limits.

‘Officers apprehended the fishers on the 13 January 2004 and 37 eastern rock lobsters, one holding pen and relevant logbooks were seized.’

The men, a 34-year-old from Coopernook, and a 37-year-old Crowdy Head man, were convicted on all charges when they appeared in court.

The 34 year old was found guilty of eight offences and was ordered to pay $500 for each offence plus court costs of $63 for each offence.

The Crowdy Head man was found guilty of four offences and was ordered to pay $500 for each offence plus court costs of $63 for each offence.

‘Illegal fishers have no regard for the ongoing sustainability of NSW’s fisheries, nor for preserving the environmental values of our State,’ said Mr Andrews.

Both fishers were also ordered to pay part of the Department’s legal costs, which the magistrate set at $2500 each.

In total the Coopernook man was ordered to pay a total of $7004 and the other a total of $4752.

The man from Coopernook is a shareholder in the rock lobster fishery.

‘A demerit point system exists within the rock lobster fishery, where shareholders accrue points when they are found guilty of committing certain serious offences,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘If a fisher accrues more than six demerit points, they are eligible to have their endorsement and shares taken from them for an undetermined period of time.’

Media contact: Howard Spencer on 02 6656 8800 or 0427 696 672

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