Mackay skipper guilty of fishing in prohibited green zone

A SKIPPER of Mackay commercial fishing vessel Barrier Star has been found guilty after claiming he was not responsible for his dory crew fishing in a prohibited green zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Despite pleading not guilty, skipper Anthony Ward did not appear at a hearing before Mackay Magistrates Court yesterday to defend a charge that he did not have a dory under tow, or attached to the main vessel when it was in a non-fishing area of the marine park.

COSTIGAN called up for back-tracking on net-free zone

Magistrate Damien Dwyer heard evidence from nine witnesses and found Ward, 48, was guilty of the offence at Packer Reefs near Hydrographers Passage on February 21, 2014.

At the time Ward was working for a Mackay couple.

Evidence stated Ward's dory operator Clint Bonney was 7.5km from Ward's vessel and 2.3km inside the green zone when it was photographed by a surveillance aircraft.

Bonney was previously found guilty and fined $7500.

In a recorded interview between Ward and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) investigator John McDermott, the skipper stated he had "only known these fellows for 10 days".

"I'm not taking responsibility for this. You can't be responsible for something you didn't know about," Ward said.

"I might be the master but they are human beings, can't control them.

"I didn't know he (Bonney) was there. I brief them every morning where we are, what is no go. And inform them there are penalties to pay and I will give them the sack.

"My record shows over the years they are all gone, sacked never to return.

"They know how to read a compass."

Mr Dwyer said Ward had taken "a very flippant attitude".

"All he says (to the crew) was don't go into the green zone and if they do you'll be sacked," he said.

Mr Dwyer said Ward even left it up to the fishermen to have a radio in their dory to check where they were and if they wanted a chart plotter it was up to them.

He convicted Ward and fined him $3000.

ILLEGAL FISHING

Dory was not attached to mother vessel Barrier Star.

Dory was 2.3km inside Green Zone



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