SETFIA is offering all south east commercial fishermen the opportunity to undertake an online course on “Understanding Commonwealth Marine Reserves”. The course is funded by Parks Australia and is specific to the South East Network of Protected Areas and it could potentially save you $100,000!
The Brisbane Times reported that two years ago, a commercial fisherman caught what might be the most expensive rock lobsters ever netted in Australia. The fisherman will pay close to $100,000 for the three lobsters – when he could have sold each lobster for $200 at market.
The Federal Court found that he set his lobster traps in part of the South East Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network – a 388,000km2 protected marine area that stretches from the far south coast of New South Wales, around Tasmania and Victoria and west to Kangaroo Island off South Australia. The video below introduces the South East network.
In April 2014, a surveillance aircraft photographed the fishing boat in a Commonwealth marine protected area off Hobart whose zoning did not allow potting. Alarmed at being seen, the vessel steamed out of the protected area before returning a few hours later to haul its pots and was apprehended by Tasmania Police on the wharf.
The Australian Government pursued the fisherman through the courts in a two-year case that has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs.
Justice Robert Bromwich said he was going easy on the fisherman and imposed a “somewhat lenient” $28,000 fine. After he pays the legal costs of the federal Environment Department and his own lawyers, the fisherman will be liable for close to $100,000.
The maximum civil penalty fine for a breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is $90,000, Justice Bromwich said, and the fisherman was lucky he hadn’t been hit with criminal charges as well.
The SETFIA course on “Understanding Commonwealth Marine Reserves” is specific to the South East Network of Protected Areas. It covers where the reserves are, which fishing methods are allowed in which reserves and the reasoning behind the reserves. Notwithstanding the examples above, SETFIA believes that most fishermen want to do the right thing and that by increasing their knowledge fishermen and owners reduce their personal and company risk. This is important because the penalties are severe. The course is TAFE accredited and is free of charge for eligible fishermen. It can be completed anywhere with an internet connection; home, office or even from a fishing vessel.