The Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol today destroyed a modified fishing boat used by three recreational fishers who were found guilty of illegal crabbing earlier this year.
The boat, worth around $6000, had a secret compartment with 69 live mud crabs hidden in it by the illegal crabbers, was forfeited to the State along with its motor, trailer and crab pots.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said building a secret compartment in a vessel was a calculated attempt at breaking Queensland’s fishing rules.
“Today’s boat destruction serves as a timely reminder to everyone to follow the rules and fish and catch responsibly,” Minister Byrne said.
“While the boat was forfeited to the State, we were not prepared to re-sell it as we could not guarantee the safety and integrity of the vessel due to alterations made to the hull.
“The destruction of this vessel means that it will not be used in the future for any further pillage of Queensland’s crab stocks.”
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officer James Hohenhaus said 24 undersized male and 34 female mud crabs were found in the secret compartment after a search back at the Redlands QBFP station.
“The crabbers had been under extensive surveillance for a number of hours and during the initial inspection only five mud crabs and one legal bream was found on-board,” Mr Davidson said.
“This raised concerns and officers issued a written order to deliver the vessel to the station for further inspection.
“During this inspection, officers found the hidden compartment under the floor of the vessel, which contained 37 bags with a total of 69 live mud crabs.
“The entire catch was seized and all crabs were returned to the water alive.” Mr Davidson said the three fishers were charged with unlawful possession of undersized and female mud crabs and pleaded guilty in the Redlands Magistrates Court.
“The fishers were fined more than $20,000 with their boat, motor, trailer and gear forfeited,” he said. “Recreational fishers should make sure their catch is the correct size and within the possession limit.
“By ensuring people are following the regulations, fisheries resources will be around for current and future generations.”
So far this year, illegal crabbers have been given spot fines totalling $30,000 and 8 have been taken to court on crabbing offences, where they have been fined a total of $34,000.
If you suspect illegal fishing, whether you see it in person or online, report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.
For more information on Queensland fishing regulations, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free ‘Qld Fishing’ app from Apple and Google app stores.