SIMP member fined for fishing
A WELL-KNOWN Wooli charter fisherman who was a member of the Solitary Islands Marine Park committee has been fined for fishing inside the sanctuary zone of the park.
Stanley Young, who operates Wooli Deep Sea Tours, faced Grafton Local Court yesterday on the charge of breaching the conditions of his Commercial Tourist Activity Permit.
The matter was brought forward by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.
The court heard Mr Young’s vessel Erebus, which was carrying nine passengers and another crew member, was found about a kilometre inside the sanctuary zone, south-east of Wooli, by NSW Fisheries officers on May 16, 2009.
Mr Young, who pleaded guilty to the breach, claimed through his defence barrister Peter O’Connor he had drifted into the sanctuary zone after becoming distracted with a new digital video camera on the day.
When Fisheries officers boarded the Erebus, they found the vessel’s Global Positioning System (GPS) had been turned off.
Mr O’Connor told the court Mr Young’s GPS was switched off “to save batteries”.
Describing his client’s breach as an “honest and reasonable mistake”, Mr O’Connor said there were no markers available for Mr Young to use in his navigation on the day in question. He added Mr Young had no idea he was in the sanctuary zone, thinking instead that the Fisheries’ officers were interested in inspecting the charter’s catch sizes.
“My client has a stake in the success of the marine park,” Mr O’Connor said. “He has no desire to undermine its effectiveness.”
He said Mr Young had anticipated drifting in a south-easterly direction outside the sanctuary zone but had instead drifted in the wrong direction due to wind variations and changes in current. Mr Young had also taken some bearings from a nearby vessel.
Prosecutor Sara Anderson said Mr Young should have taken proper precautions to stay outside the sanctuary zone, including keeping his GPS on.
“Commercial operators are required to have at least two batteries on board,” Ms Anderson said.
In handing down Mr Young’s sentence, Magistrate Kim Pogson referred to the statement of fact tendered by the prosecution which quoted an interview between Fisheries Officer Blade and Mr Young on the day of the offence.
Asked if he thought he drifted into the sanctuary zone, Mr Young told the officer: “I wouldn’t have drifted into the sanctuary zone because I have a westerly breeze, I would have motored and I am drifting back.”
Mr Pogson said the breach of permit was difficult to defend considering Mr Young’s considerable experience.
He said he would not impose the maximum penalty of $11,000 considering Mr Young’s “excellent character”, including his work with Camp Quality.
Mr Young was fined $1000 for the breach and was made to pay the DECCW’s legal costs of $600.