A MOOLOOLABA commercial crabber and his business have been ordered to pay more than $12,000 for fishing illegally.
Terry Douglas Foster, who operates Telefresh Seafoods Pty Ltd, was caught by a Queensland Boating and Fisheries patrol using too many pots and fishing in a closed season.
Foster pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court this week to three charges on behalf of himself and his business.
Another 22 charges against each were dropped.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries district officer Russell Overton, commenting on the case, said officers acting on a tip-off from the public boarded the crabber's vessel off Bribie Island for a search.
"We found the crabber using a total of 155 blue swimmer crab pots and associated apparatus even though his licence only permitted him to use 50," Mr Overton said.
"Some of his gear was also unmarked."
The Boating and Fisheries legal team acknowledged that it was permissible at one stage for two crabbing licences to be attached to one vessel.
But Foster exceeded the 100 pots allowable under two licences by having 155 pots out.
The court heard that when officers asked Foster why he was also fishing out of hours, he told them he thought the fishery opened at noon rather than midnight.
However, conflicting information in his logbooks indicated that he had been fishing there since that morning, the court was told.
Foster was also fined $6000 earlier this month after being found fishing in a spanner crab fishery during the closed season.
He was fined $4000 and Telefresh slugged $8000 for the latest charges, plus professional and court costs of more than $1500.
Magistrate Cliff Taylor also ordered the forfeiture of 55 of the excess crab pots to the state.
Foster may be allowed to keep another 50 pots if he obtains a survey certificate for a second vessel so that it can operate commercially.
Mr Overton said the fines demonstrated the seriousness of Foster's offending.
Commercial and recreational fishers were subject to rules about gear and seasons to protect fisheries resources, Mr Overton said.
"It's important that everyone abides by the rules to assist long-term sustainability and resource sharing," he said.
To report suspected illegal fishing, phone the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.
Information on fishing rules is available at http://www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or 1325 23.