Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development catch and fine people for undersized crabs

The Gosnells couple were found with 93 undersize crabs caught in Erskine. Photo supplied.
The Gosnells couple were found with 93 undersize crabs caught in Erskine. Photo supplied.

WA fisheries have warned people who disobey the fishing laws will receive a mandatory penalty equal to 10 times the prescribed value of the fish involved is automatically applied.

For example, a Gosnells couple received a mandatory penalty of $4,650 each when they were in the Mandurah court on September 4.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Developed reported that a 37-year-old man and his 34-year-old wife was found with 93 undersized blue swimmer crabs on January 18, 2020.

The department said the couple were found at Len Howard Reserve in Erskine by compliance officers and total fines added up to $4,918.70 each.

In other fishing cases before Mandurah Magistrates Court last Friday, a 24-year-old man from Wundowie was caught by department compliance officers with 60 undersize blue swimmer crabs at Herron Point on January 3, 2020.

The department reported that the man was fined $500 suspended for six months along with court costs of $248.70.

The mandatory penalty saw the man receive a $3,000 fine.

A 62-year-old Cooloongup woman was given a mandatory penalty of $1,450 plus a $500 fine and $248.70 in court costs for having 29 undersize blue swimmer crabs.

Acting on information, received via FishWatch, compliance officers from the department stopped the vehicle she was driving on Wednesday March 19, 2020 at Wannanup, where she'd been fishing in shallow water.

The offender, who admitted catching the crabs that morning also told officers she didn't know the rules.

All of the crabs were under the minimum legal size of 127mm and were returned to the water by the officers shortly after the apprehension.

The department's Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer at Mandurah, Ryan Smith said mandatory penalties were not worth the risk of taking more than the bag limit or anything undersize.

"The prescribed value of blue swimmer crab in fishing regulations is $5, but when a mandatory penalty is applied for an offence, ten times five makes it $50 per crab, so for every undersize or over the bag limit crab, offenders can be in for an expensive date in court," Mr Smith said.

"I would also like to remind all fishers that blue swimmer crabs are now off-limits entirely until the beginning of December and cannot be taken in any waters including rivers, estuaries and man-made waterways from the Swan River to Rich Road, Minninup Beach (about 15kms south of Bunbury). These waters are closed to crab fishing from 1 September to 30 November."

More information on this closure and other rules is available in the Recreational fishing guide, available on the department's website at www.fish.wa.gov.au.

The obligation for all fishers is to know the rules that apply to what they are fishing for and the where they plan to fish.

We urge people to report any suspected illegal fishing activity to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.