Shots fired in crab pot outrage

SLEEPY Corio Bay was transformed into a war zone on Sunday, when a fisherman allegedly fired a shotgun at another tinny during a crab pot dispute. Police said three people had taken their boat out to look for crab pots that had gone missing the day before, when they heard another boat engine start up and were suddenly confronted by an elderly man brandishing a shotgun as he drove his boat towards them. During the ensuing argument, the 78-year-old man allegedly fired the 12-gauge double-barrelled shotgun once over the bow of the other boat, then fired a shot into the tinny's rear, damaging the rear transom. It is understood police tracked the man to his residence in bushland near Yeppoon to interview him. The man then allegedly told police he had thrown the shotgun into the ocean. He was charged with several firearms offences, including unlawful possession of a firearm; unlawfully discharging a firearm; going armed so as to cause fear and wilful damage of a boat. Sunday's confrontation was the latest in a series of incidents stemming from outrage at crab pot theft in Central Queensland. The Morning Bulletin reported in November that Rockhampton professional fisherman Dave Swindells had caught a man red-handed as he raided pots in the Fitzroy River. It is believed Mr Swindells reported the attempted theft to authorities. In February 2006, Mr Swindells said local commercial operators were considering forming vigilante groups to deal with the problem. Although crab pot tampering is a criminal offence, convictions are rare due to the difficulty in catching offenders in the act. Local fisherman Barry Goltz said crab pot raiding was a constant nuisance. "It goes on, people raid a lot of other people's pots and knock crabs off," Mr Goltz said. "Some people are just dishonest. "I normally sit on my pots."

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