Fisheries seize man's car over alleged illegal abalone fishing haul in WA
A man has had his car impounded and faces fines of up to $400,000 and four years in jail after allegedly being caught with 17 times the legal limit of abalone in Western Australia.
The 45-year-old was apprehended in the early hours of December 30, with the Department of Fisheries alleging he had 255 Roe’s abalone in his car.
The abalone season is tightly controlled because of the popularity of recreational fishing, with just five open days scheduled across the summer.
Fishers are able to collect the shellfish and sea urchins for one hour on those allocated days.
Fisheries North Metropolitan compliance manager Todd A’Vard said it was rare for a car to be impounded.
“In cases where a vehicle is being used to transport commercial quantities of those sort of species, then vehicles are seized,” he said.
Abalone fishing is tightly regulated because the species is highly vulnerable to overfishing.
Mr A’Vard said several fisheries around the world had collapsed due to the pressures placed on the species.
A total of 17,000 recreational licences were issued in Western Australia for the 2016–17 season, with a total seasonal catch of around four tonnes of the shellfish taken by fishers in the metropolitan area.
“Basically the stock just simply can’t take that level of fishing effort without being entirely controlled and restricted,” Mr A’vard said.
“Particularly in Perth, being on the metropolitan areas doorstep, such a prized fishery and it’s very easy to access.”
The third fishing day for the season is this Sunday, January 8, with two more scheduled for February and March.