Crab-killing 4WDer acting within law

THIS Queensland four-wheel-driver (pictured) on the banks of the Tweed River at Letitia Spit is deliberately running through ranks of soldier crabs, killing them by the hundreds.

To get there he had to cross land owned by the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council (TBLALC).

The question is, is he doing anything illegal and whose job is it to stop him doing it again?

Horrified locals photographed the performance on Australia Day. A quiet day by the river turned to disgust as the heartless driver ploughed back and forth doing 4WD "line lockies" among the hapless crabs while his mate set crab pots.

It took several phone calls to establish who is responsible for the land and who can police the incident.

Representatives of the RSPCA, NSW Fisheries, NPWS and Tweed Shire Council all expressed their disgust at the incident, but said they had no legal jurisdiction over the land nor the driver's actions.

NSW Fisheries northern region manager Max Withnell said there was no law against killing the crabs, a bait species with no bag limit, nor was there any restriction on the manner in which they may be killed.

Tweed police said they could investigate a complaint about the "manner of driving", if an informant was willing to make a statement.

Inquiries eventually revealed, while the majority of Letitia Spit is controlled by the TBLALC, the sand below the mean-high-water mark is Crown Land, under the jurisdiction of the NSW Department of Lands.

A spokesperson said the department will investigate the report and, if necessary, erect signs in the area prohibiting motor vehicles from driving on the sand flats. Any vehicles found driving on the sand flats could then be fined as an unauthorised activity under the Crown Lands Act.

But Clarence Phillips, co-ordinator for the TBLALC said previous attempts to control vehicles in the vicinity had failed, with drivers ripping out barriers and towing away boulders placed to prevent access.

"Our resources are limited, but in partnership with Tweed Shire Council we are trying to protect and beautify the area," he said.

Members of a local 4WD club who witnessed the incident were appalled by the driver's stupidity, stressing his actions were totally unacceptable.

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