Three Bowen fishermen sentenced for breaking green zone rule
Three fishermen have landed in court after breaking a green zone fishing rule in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Bowen.
Shawn Colin Crawford, Dylan James Beath and John Robert Selkrig all fronted Bowen Magistrates Court to learn their fate.
Each charge related to using a dory that was not under tow in a non-fishing zone.
Crawford faced the magistrate first and pleaded guilty to being a person on a dory that was not under tow or attached to a primary fishing vessel in a non-fishing area.
Commonwealth Prosecutor Sam Lanskey told the court Crawford was on a dory that was in the marine park zone near Cobham Reef for less than three hours last April.
The furthest he was in the zone was 792m.
Mr Lanskey said the Great Barrier Reef was the biggest and most complex marine park in the world and needed to be protected.
"Breaches of this nature are prevalent and difficult to detect," he said.
Crawford admitted to the court he had not jogged his memory on green zones and did not think he was in the wrong area at the time.
The 43 year old, who lives on and off in Bowen, said he retired from the industry and was now unemployed.
Beath also pleaded guilty to being on a dory that was used in connection with a primary fishing vessel without being under tow in a non-fishing area.
Mr Lanksey told the court Beath, 30, was near Rafter Reef in January last year when he went into the green zone.
The court heard Beath's uncle saw him going in the wrong direction and let off a flare so Beath travelled back towards his uncle.
Mr Lanskey said data showed the maximum distance the Bowen man was inside the zone was about 1.7km.
"The Crown concedes he transited through the green zone and then left as soon as he was aware he was there," he said.
Lawyer Cleo Rewald, for Beath, said he was disoriented and didn't have a plotter on the dory.
The court heard the offence occurred on only his third trip out on the water and he was no longer in the industry.
Magistrate James Morton told Crawford and Beath a conversation would have been held with their skippers to discuss where fishing could be done on the morning of the offences.
"If they don't do that then they have to carry the can for fishermen doing what they're not supposed to be," Mr Morton said during Beath's proceedings.
Crawford was fined $1000 and Beath was fined $750. Both had convictions recorded and were also ordered to pay $103.60 in court costs.
Last to face the magistrate was John Robert Selkrig, who pleaded guilty to being the master of a vessel where a dory used in connection to that fishing vessel and it was not under tow in a non-fishing area.
Mr Lanksey said Selkrig was the master on the vessel that was used in connection with Crawford's dory, which entered the green zone at Cobham Reef off Bowen.
The court heard the 46 year old had previously been convicted of a similar offence.
Mr Lanksey said Selkrig participated in an interview, telling investigators Crawford's vessel did not have a radio but they did log the incident in the logbook.
Ms Rewald also represented the Bowen man, telling the court he had been in the industry for 30 years and a master of boats for 16 years.
Ms Rewald said once dories were allocated a fishing area and went out, there was no way to track where they went.
"I've been advised he did highlight the green zones," Ms Rewald said.
"I'm instructed that the dory driver apologised for his behaviour and indicated he was unknowing and did not go there to fish."
Mr Morton stressed to Selkrig the weight of his responsibility as a master of a vessel.
"What your fishermen do is your obligation. It's like taking a dog for a walk at the park and letting it off the leash," Mr Morton said.
"Mr Crawford had been out of the game for a bit and wasn't sure.
"You're the master of the show and everything stops with you."
Selkrig was fined $2500 and ordered to pay $103.60 with the conviction recorded.