We have all read posts of fisheries offences and apprehensions that often lead to comments about suitability, or lack of fines received by offenders.
Where offenders are brought before NSW courts for serious fisheries offences and found guilty, the magistrate (not NSW DPI) will determine the outcome. Perhaps a combination of a fine, good behaviour bond, community service or term of imprisonment.
NSW DPI may also seek costs to cover litigation and where the magistrate determines a fine is appropriate, this will usually be less than the maximum fine set in legislation.
Where matters proceed to higher courts (District, Supreme) fines in excess of $22,000 can be issued.
Magistrates may sentence the offender to jail where the offending is seen as grave and they have previous convictions for a similar offence.
If the offender has had fishing gear and other items like motor vehicles and boats seized, NSW DPI can request the magistrate order forfeiture of the items to the Department. However, whether a vehicle or boat is forfeited is a decision of the magistrate.
Motor vehicles and boats can only be seized where the fisheries officer has reason to believe the offender is engaged in commercial fishing activities and offences are specified as forfeiture offences as defined in the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
Fish and fishing gear can be seized at any time by a fisheries officer if they believe the items are connected to a fisheries offence.
For moderate offences fines can be issued. One or more penalty notices to an offender which range in value from $75 to $500 for most offences and for minor offences fisheries officers can also issue written warnings.
All offences are recorded in departmental systems for future reference.
When the Department decides on the level of sanction against offenders a number of things are looked at and include, but are not limited to, the persons' culpability, seriousness of the offence, previous offences committed and offence circumstances.
Report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling 1800 043 536 or report online at https://bit.ly/3nQH4Uo.