Man to face court over illegal prawn trawl near border
MORE than 100kg of king prawns and Balmain bugs allegedly taken by an unlicensed prawn trawl vessel were seized today.
A fisheries operation in offshore waters near the NSW and Queensland border resulted in the bust, Fisheries NSW Compliance acting director Tony Andrews said.
"Fisheries Officers saw the Queensland licensed commercial fishing boat trawling in ocean waters off Pottsville, NSW - 18 nautical miles south of the NSW/QLD border at around 4am on October 18," he said.
"The boat was displaying Licensed Fishing Boat (LFB) numbers however it is not licensed in NSW and not permitted to display LFB.
"The boats operator, a 39-year-old man from Southport in Queensland, had his endorsement for the NSW ocean prawn trawl fishery suspended in 2006.
"In addition, it will be alleged that the boat was also seen trawling with an otter trawl net incorporating square mesh panel by-catch reduction devices that were stitched closed with string to reduce their effectiveness.
He said by-catch reduction devices were placed on fishing gear to protect non target species and tampering with them to reduce their effectiveness would not be tolerated.
"Fisheries officers seized the net as well as 112kg of king prawns and 17kg of Balmain bugs."
The man will face charges which include taking fish for sale while not licensed, taking fish for sale with an unlicensed boat, possessing fish illegally taken and displaying LFB on a boat whilst not licensed.
"The maximum penalty for these offences range from $110 000 for a first offence of taking fish while unlicensed to $5,500 for displaying LFB on a boat when not permitted," Mr Andrews said.
"NSW commercial fishers pay for the right to fish in these waters, and the pillaging of the resource by illegal fishers will not be tolerated.
"Fisheries Officers will continue to conduct patrols targeting illegal activity in offshore waters."
Anyone with any information about illegal fishing should contact the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or online at dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/compliance.