Sugarloaf Rock abalone catch nets hefty fine

A 51 year old woman was ordered to pay fines, penalties and costs amounting to $11,355.90 over the illegal abalone haul.

A 51 year old woman was ordered to pay fines, penalties and costs amounting to $11,355.90 over the illegal abalone haul.

A trip to fish for abalone at Sugarloaf Rock near Dunsborough in December 2019 had a significant sequel this week with a 51 year old woman ordered to pay fines, penalties and costs amounting to $11,355.90.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) compliance officers were conducting targeted surveillance in the area on December 15, when the fisher from the Perth suburb of Kensington took 107 abalone from a reef.

84 of the abalone were found to be undersized, when the woman was later apprehended near accommodation she was staying at in Dunsborough.

In Busselton Court on May 12, the magistrate issued fines of $3,000 for each of the charges, which were related to exceeding the daily bag limit as well as being in possession of undersized Roe's abalone.

The court was told the undersized abalone ranged in size from 32 millimetres to 59.4mm. The minimum size limit for Roe's abalone is 60mm.

A mandatory penalty of $2,610 applying to the 87 excess abalone above the Southern Zone's daily bag limit of 20 abalone per licensed fisher, plus a $2,520 mandatory penalty for the undersized abalone that were taken was also applied, along with court costs of $225.90.

In explanation to the compliance officers, the offender said she thought she could catch abalone for other people and wasn't aware of a minimum size.

DPIRD supervising fisheries compliance officer at Busselton Kevin Johnson said the fines provided a strong message to deter illegal abalone fishing in the Southern Zone.

"The Southern Zone extends from Busselton Jetty to the South Australian border and can be fished each day between October 1 and May 15 the following year," he said.

"With the closed season approaching, we remind recreational fishers that compliance patrols will continue, to ensure nobody is fishing for abalone out of season.

"There's more on the recreational rules in the Abalone fishing guide, which is available on the department's website at fish.wa.gov.au.

"The obligation for fishers is to know the rules."