Large fines for Commonwealth concession holder’s breached permits

Two men have been found guilty of six offences under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, in relation to fishing for orange roughy off the east coast of Tasmania in June 2015.

Under Commonwealth management, the orange roughy fishery requires commercial fishers to have a minimum quota of 30 tonnes and to have an Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Observer on board.

The owner of the quota, Fechner Engineering Pty Ltd, and the skipper of the boat, James Colin Collins, were convicted and fined $21 000 in total for not holding the required amount of quota and failing to have an Observer.

AFMA’s General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said the actions taken by the operators flout fishery rules and conditions, and place the sustainability of fish stocks at risk.

“The vast majority of Commonwealth commercial fishing operators comply with the rules and as a result we’ve seen the orange roughy stocks continue to re-build,” Mr Venslovas said.

“The restrictions around fishing for any Commonwealth target species are in place to ensure stocks maintain sustainable levels, now and into the future.

“AFMA takes non-compliance seriously and will continue to monitor operators and where we observe operators not complying, AFMA will take the necessary action.”

The matter was heard on 7 December 2017 at the Sydney Central Local Court. The magistrate found that neither party had made any reasonable attempt to ensure quota was in place; therefore determining that no effort to ensure compliance was met.

Fechner Engineering Pty Ltd, was convicted on one charge of breaching a condition of a fishing concession and fined $10 000, and James Colin Collins was convicted on five charges of breaching a condition of a fishing concession and fined $11 000.

For more information on how AFMA ensures compliance in Commonwealth fisheries, visit afma.gov.au.