TWO abalone poachers with lengthy records were yesterday fined a total of $1500 and banned from fishing.
Melbourne men Han Dang and Ne Huynh pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to taking excess numbers of abalone and rock lobster and using a hook to catch crayfish.
Huynh was also charged with failing to comply with the directions of a fisheries officer.
They were each fined $750. Dang also has to pay $68.38 costs and Huynh $119.32 costs. Dang was also banned from fishing for eight months and Huynh for 12 months.
The court heard that both men had many prior court appearances and had received infringement notices for fishing offences — the most recent only four weeks before they were caught.
On April 12 this year the men travelled from Melbourne to the Crown Of Thorns at Peterborough. At 7.35am they began diving and Dang had a wire hook.
Dang took two rock lobsters and five abalone, which was the maximum allowed catch for each species. He also located another rock lobster.
Huynh had two crayfish and 10 abalone. The men hid the extra abalone in a cave and discarded the extra rock lobster when approached by fisheries officers.
Both men were unco-operative. They also hid the wire hook, but it was found the next day by the officers.
A defence counsel claimed the men took the extra abalone and rock lobsters to compare them with the rest of the catch with the intention of putting the smaller ones back in the water and only taking the legal amount.
Magistrate Jelena Popovic said due to their prior convictions she believed both men knew what they were doing, but the infractions were not of a very serious nature as the number of fish was not large.
She decided to not confiscate their gear, only the illegal wire crayfish hook.