Fishers reminded of heavy penalties for obstructing Fisheries Officers

Many fishers are unaware of the significant powers held by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) compliance officers when investigating suspected illegal activity.

DPIRD provided a number of examples of cases this year, where obstructing an officer from carrying out this duty was deemed a serious matter attracting significant penalties.

In one case, two men from suburban Aveley, one aged 32 and the other 27, were ordered to pay more than $8,000 in fines, penalties and costs in the Perth Magistrates court last month after making multiple attempts to obstruct officers.

The pair had been observed on a reef platform at the Waterman Recreation Area in November 2020 and when intercepted, the 27-year-old ignored a direction to not drive off and the older man refused to allow a vehicle search.

In following up, DPIRD fisheries officers and WA Police conducted a roadside stop to obtain the information they needed.

This follows another case which went before the Exmouth Court in January where a 54-year-old man from Exmouth received a fine and costs totalling $1,728.70 for disposing of fishing gear overboard and lying to a compliance officer.

The compliance officer was obstructed from doing his duty in the waters of the Ningaloo Marine Park adjacent to Warroora Station, when the vessel was boarded and checked in April 2019.

Obstruction can occur in many ways, including failing to respond to a DPIRD compliance officers’ lawful request for identification and giving a false name and address, as a 28-year-old Capel man found out in August last year, when he was caught illegally fishing for abalone. Giving a false name and address attracted a $750 fine in the Perth Magistrates Court last month.

The magistrate also ordered the man to pay a fine, mandatory penalty and court costs totalling $2359.30 for illegal fishing in the Waterman Recreation Area, where you may not take any reef species including abalone, shellfish, crabs, rock lobster and octopus, but line fishing from shore is permitted.

All up the Capel man’s court bill was more than $3100.

DPIRD Director of Regional Compliance Metro Todd A’Vard said compliance officers carried out important work on behalf of the WA community.

“The DPIRD compliance officers have a vital role in enforcing our State’s fish resources legislation and it’s unacceptable when people try to obstruct investigations,” Mr A’Vard said.

“The WA community expects high standards in fisheries management and compliance officers have significant powers of search and seizure. Obstruction charges are taken seriously.”

Anyone who suspects illegal fishing or illicit fish trading activity is taking place anywhere in the State is urged to call to report their concerns. Check out details online of what’s needed when you make a call to FishWatch – 1800 815 507

The Aveley men drove away after being asked not to, but were later stopped by Police. Their fines totalled more than $8000.