Huge fine for CQ fishermen after illegal crab find

TWO Central Queensland commercial fishers have netted $26,000 in fines after being found with more than 50 illegal mud crabs at Port Alma.

The fishermen were caught by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers with three bins of live mud crabs including 51 protected females.

Fisheries officers made the discovery when they inspected a boat at the Port Alma ramp, south of Rockhampton

The two men pleaded guilty to charges under the Fisheries Act in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court in late October.

A 29-year-old man with a history of fisheries offences was convicted and fined $14,000, while a 49-year-old man received a $12,000 fine.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said the offences were serious and disappointing considering the background of the men.

"The pair has been working in Central Queensland waters for more than a decade and by now should be well aware of the regulations for mud crabs," Ms Lauga said.

"There are no excuses for illegal fishing in Central Queensland waters.

"Crabbing regulations are in place for commercial and recreational fishers to ensure crustacean stocks are sustainable and can be enjoyed by future generations of Central Queenslanders.

"The Palaszczuk Government has worked hard to protect seafood stocks in Queensland waters and local fishing industry jobs.

"Not only did the two commercial fishers disregard the state's fisheries laws, but by taking protected female mud crabs they've also put the viability of their industry and their own jobs at risk."

In Brisbane on Friday, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner oversaw the crushing of a 4.3 metre aluminium boat seized from an illegal fishing operation.

"Today's boat crushing sends a clear message that illegal fishing won't be tolerated in Queensland," Mr Furner said.

"The Palaszczuk Government's reforms to fisheries management protect jobs and the sustainability of Queensland's famous seafood.

"Anyone found guilty of black marketing or trafficking in seafood can now be fined up to $400,000 and face up to three years jail.

"The message to commercial and recreational fishers and crabbers is clear."

Crabbing rules and regulations can be found online at www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, by downloading the free 'Qld Fishing' smartphone app or by calling 13 25 23.

Suspected illegal fishing activity can be reported to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116 for investigation.