An example of a turtle trapped in a net.
An example of a turtle trapped in a net. Department of Agriculture and Fi

Fishers fined $9,500 for illegal netting in Gladstone

TWO commercial fishers were found guilty for netting offences in the Port of Gladstone-Rodd's Bay Dugong Protection Area and were fined close to $10,000, between them.

The two men pleaded guilty in the Gladstone Magistrates Court.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol Central Queensland investigator Deryk Smith said in April 2016, QBFP officers intercepted the fishers as they were pulling up their commercial fishing boat at the Gladstone Yacht Club boat ramp.

"The officers found evidence of nets having been set in the DPA, including information on a chart plotter," Mr Smith said.

"The officers instructed the fishers not to relaunch, or go anywhere near the locations identified on the plotter.

"Despite this, QBFP officers found evidence that the fishers had defied these instructions by returning to the water, and pulling up or tampering with nets.

"Failing to comply with this lawful direction led to charges including obstruction, and attempting to conceal unlawful behaviour."

The officers found unmarked and unlit nets, including one net that looked as though its anchor rope had just been cut. Officers also observed the defendants' boat leaving one area at high speed.

QBFP officers found a quantity of barramundi, shark, and one turtle, all of which were released alive.

One of the men received a $6000 fine, with no conviction recorded. The second man received a $3500 fine, with no conviction recorded.

Although commercial fishers can use nets within the dugong protection area, there is an increased level of regulatory requirements, including number and lengths of nets and attendance provisions.

To report suspected illegal fishing activity, call the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.