James Prodanovski has conviction confirmed in lobster overfishing case

James Prodanovski

James Prodanovski

Former Shellharbour fish monger James Prodanovski has failed to have his conviction for two charges relating to overfishing of eastern rock lobsters overturned on appeal.

Prodanovski was originally ordered to pay a total of $50,000 in fines and costs after being found guilty in Wollongong Local Court last year of possessing illegally taken fish and possessing more than the legal amount of fish stemming from a 2014 investigation by NSW Fisheries into allegations of overfishing off the Wollongong coastline.

The charges against Prodanovski centre on his purchase of 100kg of lobster (123 lobsters) from Wollongong fisherman Pasquale Brancatisano on March 14, 2014 in circumstances where the lobsters were not properly tagged under the law.

The court heard the tags on the lobsters were left untrimmed – allegedly at the hands of Brancatisano – meaning they could in effect be removed and reused.

Prodanovski did not look inside the lobster crates when picking up the merchandise, with Magistrate Geraldine Beattie at the time saying Prodanovski should have, given his experience, and had he done so, he would have seen the untrimmed tags.

She found the 123 lobsters had been illegally fished, meaning Prodanovski’s possession of them, at more than 20 times the commercial limit of five, was serious and imposed the substantial fine.

Prodanovski appealed his conviction to the NSW District Court, claiming Magistrate Beattie had made factual errors in her findings.

However, Judge Andrew Haesler found no error had been made and dismissed the appeal.

“The offences have been proved,” he said.