Four recreational fishers, who took 97 protected sea cucumbers from regulated waters around Bribie Island, have been sentenced with a fishing boat forfeited and fines of $6000 issued.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said taking such quantities of sea cucumbers from around Bribie severely contravened protection laws.
“This is a significant level of offending which undoubtedly would have had an adverse effect on the ecological sustainability of these fisheries resources,” Mr Furner said.
“Sea cucumbers are a priority fish species which cannot be taken or possessed by recreational fishers when taken from Queensland’s sea cucumber regulated waters, with a closure in place from Bowen south.”
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers inspected a vessel at the Sylvan Beach boat ramp during a routine compliance patrol on 18 May 2019.
The vessel’s master told fisheries officers twice there were no fish on board, however a search revealed 97 sea cucumbers, two molluscs, five undersized blue swimmer crabs and one undersized snapper.
Fisheries officers executed a search warrant of the skipper’s residence the following day, finding evidence of a further 51 sea cucumbers taken from Pumicestone Passage, five undersized fish and eight fish in excess of possession limits, including one shovelnose ray.
Caboolture Magistrates Court heard ten charges against the vessel’s master and one charge each against the three other defendants who all pleaded guilty to offences under the Fisheries Act 1994.
The Magistrate ruled the master’s fibreglass fishing vessel seized by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol be forfeited to the State and fined the three other fishers $2,000 each, with no convictions recorded.
If people suspect illegal fishing activity, they should report it to the 24-hour toll-free Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.