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Rock Lobster Fisherman Loses Licence for a Week

by the Fish Site Editor
19 November 2009, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - A commercial rock lobster fisherman from Warrnambool lost his licence for seven days and was convicted and fined a total of $1000 for licence breaches, at the Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week.

The court heard that in August this year, David Ernest BARKER had failed to declare accurate information regarding the weight and quantity of rock lobsters landed, in his fishing records and under the Quota Management System.

Magistrate Klestadt said Mr Barker had displayed a cavalier attitude to his responsibility towards the fishery.

Mr Barker pleaded guilty to four charges relating to breaches of his licence conditions after admitting to concealing three undeclared rock lobsters, which weighed a total of 2.7 kg.

He also failed to ensure his lobster access licence was kept on board the vessel.

Prosecutor, Candice HanI, told the court there was a need for general and specific deterrence and referred to the defendant's history of non-compliance, while applying for a one month licence suspension.

Defence counsel, John Perry, said the offence involved a small quantity of rock lobster, for personal use and that it would not have had a significant impact on the fishery.

He said Mr Barker had only appeared before the Courts on one previous occasion, despite his 29 years in the industry and submitted a licence suspension would be inappropriate in the circumstances.

However the Magistrate said although there was no evidence the offence was committed for significant financial gain, it was extremely foolish and a potentially damaging action, especially considering the defendant's time in the fishery.

He also said it was relevant to note the three rock lobsters equalled 30 per cent of the defendant's catch on that day.

Mr Klestadt said there was a need to discourage those who might seek to profit from the removal of fish from the fishery because this type of behaviour was one of the evils that the fisheries legislation is designed to protect against.

He said a clear message needed to be sent from the Courts that a system relying on honesty will come down on those who try to dishonestly deal with it.

He said the suspension was a warning and an unpleasant clear indicator to the defendant and to others in the industry, that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. The defendant was convicted and fined $1000, ordered to pay $1360.50 in costs and had his licence suspended for seven days.

the Fish Site Editor