AU Court imposes strong penalty for under-declaring school shark catches
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)
27. April 2015
Commonwealth fisherman banned for 10 years
Former Port Fairy fisherman Gary Robinson has been banned for a decade from commercial fishing in Commonwealth waters for lying to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) about his catch.
Appearing in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court last week, Mr Robinson, former master of the fishing vessel Western Light, was charged for under-declaring the amount of school shark he caught and falsifying records he submitted to AFMA.
The conviction follows an extensive joint investigation by AFMA and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Fisheries Victoria). In addition to the ban, Mr Robinson was also fined $20 000.
AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas welcomed the strong penalty imposed by the Court, stating that the penalty highlighted the seriousness of illegal fishing and the criminal conduct of Mr Robinson.
“As demonstrated by this conviction, illegal fishing will not be tolerated,” said Mr Venslovas.
“Fishers falsifying records and lying to fisheries regulators will be caught.
“By understating your catch you are effectively robbing the Australian community of valuable resources and harming the sustainability of the Australian fisheries. Not to mention breaking the very rules and regulations we have in place to ensure healthy fisheries for current and future generations.”
Under Commonwealth fishery management arrangements it is a requirement to keep accurate records of fish caught, including having it verified through a receiver to confirm the accuracy.
Investigations into Mr Robinson’s criminal activity revealed that he had used his ex-wife as his nominated fish receiver at the time of the offences. However, instead of having his ex-wife sign the required documentation, he had had been signing and submitting the fish receiver paperwork to AFMA without her knowledge.
Mr Robinson had previously been convicted of fisheries offences under state legislation and given a three month jail sentence, suspended for 2 years, $70 000 in fines, and ordered to pay over $100 000 in pecuniary penalties.
Know where your fish comes from. If you suspect illegal fishing or black-market fish supply to be occurring in your area please contact 1800 CRIMFISH (1800 274 634).