A commercial fisher from Yamba has finally been fined $9,000 after being convicted for holding a critically endangered grey nurse shark on his fishing vessel two years ago.
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) director of fisheries compliance, Glenn Tritton, said fisheries officers found a grey nurse shark carcass in a vessel off Joggley Point near Evans Head in October 2010.
‘Fisheries officers made the find when conducting a routine check of a commercial vessel trawling for prawns at night,’ Mr Tritton said.
‘A 2.27-metre male grey nurse shark carcass was located in the stern of the vessel.
‘It is an offence to harm or to be in possession of a threatened species.
‘The offender pleaded guilty in Maclean Local Court and was fined $9,000 and $2,212 in professional costs.
‘The penalty applied by the magistrate certainly reflects the serious nature of the offence, which can also carry a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.’
Mr Tritton said commercial fishers should be aware of the strict rules that apply when any threatened species is caught during a routine fishing activity.
‘Failure to take immediate steps to return the fish to its natural environment with the least possible injury may expose the fisher to severe penalties,’ he said.
‘These penalties have been put in place because grey nurse shark numbers have declined to a point where they are listed as a critically endangered species.
‘Mandatory threatened species reporting requirements also exist for commercial fishers in NSW and any interactions should be reported in writing to DPI using a threatened species reporting form.
‘Threatened species offences are treated as very serious and we will continue to monitor both recreational and commercial fishers to make sure both are complying with the regulations.
‘Anybody found breaching regulations can expect to face the full force of the law.’
The NSW government recently made a raft of changes to recreational fishing and scuba diving arrangements at grey nurse shark critical habitat and other aggregation sites.