JIM ANDRE of Esperance writes:
I WAS living nearly 70klms east of Esperance a whileback when my brother and his mate came out to visit. We are all snorkellers andlicensed as amateurs to take abalone and we went down to the Duke of Orleans Bayand each got our legalbag limit of Roes abalone. We then returned to myhouse at Condingup with all the legal requirements fulfilled concerning sizes,bag limit, licences numbers and dates etc.
I asked my brother if he was going to give someabalone to our elderly parents who cannot get abalone for themselves and whoenjoy eating them. But they had a party coming up and needed all they hadcaught. So I asked my brother who was driving the 70km back to town anyway, totake my abalone into town and drop them off at our parents’ place for me. Allthe details of my licence were on the little plastic bag, the quantity, sizeand everything was all legitimate and legal. On the way to town the FisheriesDepartment had a roadblock, stopped and searched my brother’s car and informedhim he was in breach of the law as the twowere only allowed to have oneday’s bag limit eachin their possession. My brother explained the factsof the matter and asked the fisheries officer to ring me for confirmation. Thefisheries officer saidfisheries do not take into account anything exceptthe letter of the law and it is not flexible or negotiable no matter what thecircumstances are. The really stupid part is, if therewas another personin the car with them, even unlicenced or a little child,then there wouldbe no offence. The fisheries officer said if your brother wants to give yourparents a feed of freshabalone then he had to make the 140klm round tripin his car to deliver them. Fisheries gave my brother a $250 on the spot finefor the 300gm of abalone because he owned the car they were in.
Feeling there was no justice or fairness my brotherexercised his right to plead his case in court, to which the magistratefollowed the fisheries line: the law is the law, no exceptions, no mitigatingcircumstances. Then – can you even believe this – the magistrate trebled thefine to $750. Yes, this happens in Australia! The magistrate fined my brother$500-00 for exercising his right to plead his case in court! It is disgraceful.
The government catch cry is fish for the future toconserve the fish stocks. The cost of an amateur abalonelicence has beenincreased by 20 per cent every year since its introduction. The amateur take ofabalone has been reduced steadily to rock bottom where at the absolute maximum,thetake of greenlips could not be more than 3.5 tonnes a yearinthis zone. The amateur season has been reducedfrom 12 months to 7 months.In the time since amateur licences were introducedthe professional abaloneseason remainsopen for12 months. Each professionallicencequota has been increased by the government by 1.2 tonnes per licence, 6licences =a 7.2 tonne increase, more than double the total amateur catch!
The government has made the multitude of laws foramateurs so complex they have set them up to fail and they have turned their law enforcers into tax collectorsto maximise their financial intake from the amateur fisherman.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.