Whitebait poachers get big fines
On Wednesday 7 June 2017 two Circular Head men were sentenced in the Smithton Magistrates Court. They were sentenced on 43 counts relating to the taking of whitebait and offences against officers.
These convictions and penalties are the largest ever recorded by the courts for whitebait related offences.
Leslie John LAMBERT and Roger James LAMBERT had previously pleaded guilty. Both men were convicted on all counts.
Leslie John LAMBERT received $11 600 in fines and special penalties.
Roger James LAMBERT received a 21 day suspended gaol sentence plus fines and special penalties of $11 060.
The previous largest fine was in 2011 when Peter Warren LAMBERT was convicted and fined $11 560 for taking and possessing 62kg of whitebait without a licence.
These current offences occurred on a number of occasions at Deep Creek near Smithton. Deep Creek is a water that is closed at all times to the taking of whitebait. These penalties should serve as a warning to anyone choosing to disregard the strict regulations around the taking of whitebait.
Poaching and the illegal sale of whitebait is an ongoing threat to a long-term recovery plan for the recreational whitebait fishery.
Stephen Hepworth is the Manager (Compliance and Operations) with the Inland Fisheries Service.
“The management of the whitebait fishery is of the utmost concern to the Inland Fisheries Service, and illegal poaching activities have the potential to seriously jeopardise the ongoing sustainability of the 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. Robust penalties for offenders also act as a deterrent, with a combination of fines and special penalties of $157 per kilogram applying to whitebait illegally taken or possessed,” Mr. Hepworth said.