$12,000 fine for obstruction in fisheries inspection

A COMMERCIAL fisher has been convicted and fined $12,000 and had his commercial fisher licence suspended for two months after pleading guilty to two obstruction charges in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) officer James Hohenhaus said the man had been charged with obstruction during a routine inspection around Bustard Head, on the Central Queensland coast.

"Officers approached the trawler with the intention of conducting a routine inspection," Mr Hohenhaus said.

"The master of the vessel became verbally abusive and physically obstructive by not allowing officers to conduct an inspection of the vessel including its freezer.

"He was of the opinion that we required his permission to be on board the boat, despite us explaining the law and advising he would be charged with obstruction if he did not comply."

Mr Hohenhaus said it was important fishers - both recreational and commercial - were aware that QBFP officers have powers under the Fisheries Act to conduct inspections.

"QBFP officers can legally enter a vehicle and board a boat, including a boat that is being carried or towed by a vehicle, in order to ask questions, issue a notice, give a direction, conduct an inspection or for monitoring purposes," he said.

"Even if the boat or vehicle is moving or about to move, the officer can signal the person in control of the boat or vehicle to stop or not move it.

"The law requires that a person in control of the boat or vehicle gives reasonable help to the officer to conduct the inspection."

If you suspect illegal fishing, whether seen in person or online, report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116. Don't engage the person, as this can compromise an investigation.

For more information on Queensland fishing rules, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

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