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Heavy court fines for pre-Christmas fishing trips

Pre-Christmas fishing trips in the Pilbara had their sequel in the Karratha Court earlier this month, when two men were issued with heavy fines for taking undersize high-risk demersal fish species and other offences.


Taking undersize fish presents a risk to the sustainability of Western Australia’s fisheries, so they are protected by legislation.


Four days before Christmas in 2012, Sergio DEGUZMAN of Karratha had his catch checked by Fisheries and Marine Officers (FMOs) at Dampier’s Hampton Harbour Boat Ramp and was found to have a total of 43 fish. 17 of the finfish were undersize and included demersal species known as blue tuskfish, redspot emporer, and coral trout and the nearshore species stripey seapearch.


On Tuesday 10 September Deguzman was ordered to pay $3,600 for this offence and given a fine, penalty and costs totalling $3,239.25 for possessing 15 fish in excess of the group bag limit.


The Court was told that when an FMO asked Deguzman whether he knew the local fishing rules he said “it’s just sometimes I don’t fish very often, so I take home whatever I catch”. 


Reflecting on the case, Karratha Supervising FMO Michael Dunne said Deguzman’s overall penalty was $6,839.35 – an important message for anyone who might ignore the rules.


In another case heard on 10 September, Broe LONERGAN of Karratha was fined $2,000 for failing to state his name and principal place of residence.


He had been questioned by FMOs at a Dampier boat ramp two days before Christmas in 2012 and the court was told Lonergan had stated false particulars in order to avoid receiving a fine.


A check of his catch found an undersize coral trout, which was able to be returned to the water on the day, but in court this week Lonergan was given a fine and additional penalty of $1,450 for having possession of the fish, which at 42cm was totally protected.


Mr Dunne said size limits were very important, as most fishers recognised.


“The size limits allow fish to reach maturity to complete their breeding cycle, which is vital for the future of high-risk demersal species, which are long-lived and slow-growing,” he said. “The minimum legal size for coral trout is 45cm.”


For all of his offences, Lonergan was ordered to pay a total of $3,579.35.


For More Information On WA Fisheries Rules & Regs:

WA Recreational Fishing Rules