A charter boat skipper has been hit with more than $33,000 in fines and costs after being found guilty in the Mackay Magistrates Court of two charges, including a major black marketing offence.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the fisher pleaded guilty to possessing 184 black jewfish bladders with the intention to sell them on the black market, in contravention of the Fisheries Act.
“Black jewfish are vulnerable to overfishing and their bladders are highly-prized on the black market where they sell for up to $1000 a kilogram,” Mrs Gilbert said.
“The charter boat skipper had unlawfully collected 13 kilograms of bladders over two months during his employment on a fishing charter vessel and intended selling them on the black market.
“Trafficking in a priority fish such as black jewfish is a serious black marketing offence as evidenced by the Magistrate fining the fisher $18,000, with a further $2000 fine for the fisher for having two sawfish rostrums in his possession and ordering the fisher to pay $13,443.85 in costs.
“Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers from Airlie Beach worked hard to detect these offences and the fines imposed on this fisher send a clear signal that we won’t stand for activities such as black market fishing.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the prosecution was the first under new laws introduced in 2019 to address serious black marketing activities.
“Black market fishing is appalling behaviour that fosters further criminal activity and there is simply no excuse for it,” Mr Furner said.
“That’s why the Queensland Government took a strong stand against black marketing with the introduction of new offences and penalties, including up to three years jail and $400,350 for trafficking in seafood.
“We have also introduced closed seasons and Prescribed Commercial Catch limits to help preserve vulnerable species, such as black jewfish, from overfishing.
“Protecting our precious fishing resources is at the heart of our determination to protect jobs in both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors and build a legacy of a sustainable fishery for our children and grandchildren.”