Boatie brags about illegal baldies catch and reels in chin-trembling court fine

A 51-year-old man was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, a mandatory additional penalty of $8,580 and costs of $1,467.70 – in all adding up to $12,047.70 – following an appearance in a Geraldton court. The magistrate also suspended the offender’s recreational fishing from boat licence for three months.

The arrest followed a Facebook post in June last year which showed 46 baldchin gropers on the deck of the man’s vessel, which led Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) compliance officers to use their extensive search and seizure powers.

Fisheries officers had observed the boat at various locations around the Abrolhos Islands over a 24 hour period when they saw the post with the baldchin gropers laid out on the rear deck.

In the West Coast Region, the total possession limit is two-day’s bag limit of whole demersal fish per person. As there were six people on board the vessel, the allowed possession limit was 24 demersal fish.

Affectionately known as ‘baldies’, this fish species is only found in Western Australian waters. They are slow-growing demersals and take five to seven years to reach 40cm in length. As a result, baldchin groper stocks are at risk from sustained overfishing.

DPIRD’s Director Regional Compliance in the Midwest, Mick Kelly said it was shocking there was nearly double the allowable limit of demersal fish in the photo on the social media post.

“Fishing rules are designed to support sustainability and when community standards are breached by the greedy, like this, we know that law-abiding fishers expect our officers to act,” Mr Kelly said.

If you see potentially illegal WA fishing activity on any social media platform, report it to FishWatch. Calls are treated confidentially, so keep the number handy – 1800 815 507.

The Facebook brag that cost more than $12,000.