A Swanbourne man was fined $4893 yesterday, for unlawfully selling fish in two western suburbs and for dumping offal in the waters off Cottesloe.
55-year-old Michael Stuart Lane pleaded guilty to a total of five charges, arising from a Department of Fisheries surveillance operation in August this year.
A Perth court was told the covert operation focussed on Lane’s involvement in the sale of black market finfish to various purchases by way of door-to-door distribution throughout the western suburbs of Perth.
Department of Fisheries Central Support Manager Ian Jones said Lane had caught sand whiting in the waters off the metropolitan coast and later filleted and packaged the fish before selling them to various householders in Cottesloe and Mosman Park.
“The offences took place on four days in early August and that over that time Lane was paid $255 for the 5.6 kilograms of filleted fish that he had offered for sale – without being the holder of a current commercial fishing licence,” Mr Jones said.
“In addition, he was caught on camera (on 3 August 2007) dumping offal from the fish he had filleted into the waters at Cottesloe Reef, in a Fish Habitat Protection Area.”
As well as imposing a global fine of $4,000 for the charges, the Magistrate ruled that Lane would pay court costs of $669.20 plus an additional mandatory penalty of $224 for the sand whiting fillets he had sold and he also ordered the forfeiture of the $255 in sale proceeds.
Mr Jones said the Department had asked for the forfeiture of the proceeds of the sale, because Lane had previous Fisheries convictions and to drive a powerful message home to the offender and the community that this type of conduct was totally unacceptable.
“The unlawful selling of fish shows a total disregard for law abiding recreational fishers who fish for the future and catch only enough fish for themselves and their family and it also impacts on commercial operators who run legitimate businesses,” he said.
“Dumping of offal is also a significant matter, because, not only did it pollute a pristine area within a Fish Habitat Protection Area, it also has the potential to attract marine predators such as sharks and increase the danger to water users in the vicinity.
“We are pleased the fines and penalties imposed reflect the seriousness of the offences and we urge members of the public to report illegal fish sales by calling the Department’s Fishwatch number 1800 815 507. The service operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”