Darumbal man appeals $2000 fine
A DARUMBAL man is appealing the $2000 fishing fine he copped last month, claiming the state law is inconsistent with the native title and racial discrimination acts.
Magistrate John McGrath fined Elwyn James Mann $2000 after he was found guilty of using a commercial 80m net in the Fitzroy River.
Mann had been charged with using fishing apparatus while not the holder of authority and unlawfully taking fish.
In an appeal against the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, lodged this week with the District Court at Rockhampton, Mann said the Fisheries Act, Section 14, was inconsistent with section 211 of the Native Title Act and therefore invalid.
The North Rockhampton man also said this section was inconsistent with Section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act and pointed out the penalty imposed was “excessive”.
A fisheries spokesperson yesterday declined to comment while the matter was before the courts, however the department provided a copy of a statement it issued shortly after Mann was fined.
“Today the Magistrates Court in Rockhampton handed down its decision against two men who claimed a native title entitlement to take fish,” the statement said.
“On 5 January, 2009, Yepoon QBFP officers were called to Moores Creek, Rockhampton, to investigate claims of illegal fishing.
“When the officers reached the scene they found the defendants using a commercial fishing net for which a permit is required.
“Officers seized the net which was extended across the entire width of Moores Creek.
“The net was approximately 80 metres long.”
The spokesperson said the Queensland Fisheries Act specifically protected traditional fishing rights but not where fishing activity involved commercial apparatus, as in this case.
“In this case a defence of traditional fishing under section 14 of the Fisheries Act 1994 was not raised,” the spokesperson said.
“Instead, the defendants argued that they possessed or believed that they possessed native title rights under Commonwealth law which enabled them to fish in Moore’s Creek.
“The court rejected that argument.
“All anglers, including traditional fishers, need to remember that the rules are there for a reason – to make sure we have fish for future generations to enjoy.”
The issue of indigenous fishing activity in the Fitzroy has divided the Rockhampton community in recent years.
In mid-2008, the minister for primary industries and fisheries announced the Government had approved legislation that would limit indigenous fishing in the Fitzroy River.
The legislative change drew sharp criticism from Darumbal elder Lester Adams who expressed disappointment at the time.
Suspected illegal fishing activity can be reported to the free 24-hour Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.
The latest fishing rules for Queensland are available at www.deedi.qld.gov.au