An experienced southern bluefin tuna fisherman and his company have been penalised $93,900 with $34,000 in court costs for shooting a longline into a marine national park off Tasmania's North-East coast.
The longline contained 800 hooks and caught 190 fish weighing more than five tonnes, 112 of which were kept and 78 were released with four dying.
Joseph Basile - the skipper of fishing vessel AFV Tunamoon - and his company Basile Pty Ltd were sentenced in the Federal Court last week for contravening the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The shot into the Flinders Marine Park national park zone occurred on June 28, 2017, where it remained for 18.5 hours. The zone - established in 2007 - covers 25,812 square kilometres east of the Furneaux Group. Two-thirds of the shot was into the park, before the remainder drifted in.
The marine park is a "no-take" zone for southern bluefin tuna, allowing them to replenish their stocks. It is also considered an important area for the migration of marine mammals.
The court was told that Basile had never fished that far south before, but had travelled to the area due to "lower than expected catches in his normal fishing area". He was unaware of the reserve, but did not check for the location of the reserve as he was over 200 kilometres away from land mass.
Basile argued that the contravention took place in an area 130 kilometres from the continental slope, above a deep abyssal plain.
The fish caught within the reserve were sold for almost $78,000, resulting in a profit of $22,500.
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Basile, who has 36 years of experience as a commercial fisherman without being warned or cautioned, fully co-operated with authorities and made full and frank admissions. He has since retired, and any penalty would need to be paid from his retirement savings.
In her judgment, Justice Jayne Jagot said the contravention was careless, but not intentional or reckless, and that southern bluefin tuna were not endemic to the reserve.
"A highly migratory species such as southern bluefin tuna, as the evidence shows, is just as likely to be caught outside as within the reserve," she said.
"The same could not be said of a species endemic to the reserve."
She found that 13 per cent of the maximum penalty was an appropriate starting point, with a further 30 per cent reduction given Basile's co-operation.
Basile was given a $12,000 penalty and his company was given a penalty of $81,900, with $42,500 in costs.