Mud crabbers five times over their catch limit fined $2200
TWO MEN discovered with more than five times the legal possession limit of mudcrabs have paid a total penalty of $2200 for their offences.
Damien John Crosskell, 26 of Coutts Crossing and Billy John Clifford, 27, of Nymboida both pleaded guilty to a number of fishing offences after they were found with three crates containing 56 tied mudcrabs on the banks of the Sandon River nearly two years ago.
The court heard there was a catch limit of five mudcrabs a day for each fisher at the time of the offence.
Magistrate Karen Stafford told the pair, who fronted Grafton Local Court yesterday, there was a maximum penalty of $22,000 each for the offence.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries department took the pair to court just in time, as a two-year time limit for these offences was about to expire.
In evidence presented to the court, two fishery officers patrolling the Sandon River area came upon Clifford and Crosskell asleep in swags under a tarpaulin lean-to on the river bank.
Also under the tarpaulin were three plastic crates and 26 lengths of pink string, cut long enough to tie mud crabs.
The officers said the pair admitted owning the crustaceans in the crates and later counted 56 live and tied crabs in them.
The pair told the officers they caught the crabs using a spotlight and a cast net.
The officers allowed the pair to keep the number of crabs they were allowed and released the rest.
Despite being in possession of a commercial number of crabs, the pair maintained the crabs were for their consumption and their families.
In court yesterday Clifford said there was large number of extended family members to share the crabs among.
Magistrate Stafford said on the balance of probabilities she accepted the crabs were not going to be sold, despite the high profit that could be gained.
She convicted and fined Crosskell $800 for exceeding the possession limit and $300 each for possession of a cast net and not having a fishing licence. She fined Clifford $800 for exceeding the possession limit.