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Big fisheries penalties handed out to whitebait poachers

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An illegal whitebait trap. Poachers have recently received large fines for using such equipment and illegally taking whitebait.

Two Stanley men were fined a total of $10,230 in Smithton Magistrate’s court last week (22/05/14), after pleading guilty to charges relating to the illegal taking of whitebait.

The court heard that Lincoln Maurice Jackson and Jeremy Stephen Lane were apprehended last October at Deep Creek near Smithton, where they were found to be in possession of more than 33 kilograms of freshly-caught whitebait.

Magistrate Melanie Bartlett was told that the men were observed fishing for whitebait by Inland Fisheries Service (IFS) officers during a targeted surveillance operation, and were subsequently interviewed and charged with multiple offences including the taking of whitebait from closed waters and using multiple nets to take whitebait.

According to Stephen Hepworth, manager of Compliance and Operations with IFS, poaching and the illegal sale of whitebait is an ongoing threat to a long-term recovery plan for the recreational whitebait fishery.

“The use of strict bag limits, the rotational closure of some waters, limits on fishing gear and a limited season opening are all tools used to protect the sustainability of the fishery”, Mr Hepworth said.

“Robust penalties for offenders also act as a deterrent, with a combination of fines and special penalties of $130 per kilo applying to whitebait illegally taken or possessed.”

In the same court, a Trowutta man currently disqualified from holding a whitebait licence for pervious offences was fined $400 for unlawfully possessing a whitebait net near an inland water.

 

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