Gympie couple fined for exceeding fish possession limits
A GYMPIE couple has been fined $471 after being found with 310 whiting fillets from Burrum Heads in their freezer.
The couple copped the on-the-spot fine for exceeding the legal possession limits of 50 trumpeter (winter) whiting per person.
Acting on information from a member of the public, fisheries officers executed a search warrant on the pair's Gympie residence and found 310 whiting fillets (155 fish) above their possession limit in a freezer.
"The suspects regularly stayed and fished at Burrum Heads taking their total allowable possession limit on individual trips," Mr Bowness said.
"They were reported to regularly take excess fish to their Gympie residence rather than retain it at Burrum Heads in an attempt to appear to be complying with possession limits.
"A possession limit refers to the total number of fish an individual can legally take and have in their possession at any one time - it does not apply on a per day basis.
"This includes the fish you have caught previously that are in your esky, on your boat or in the freezer at home.
"If we are to continue to enjoy fishing, everyone must share the resources and abide by the laws."
Mr Bowness said recreational fishers often confuse trumpeter whiting (winter whiting) with sand whiting (summer whiting).
"Trumpeter (winter) whiting have a silvery grey back with a paler belly featuring a silver horizontal band," he said.
"Sand (summer) whiting are uniformly silver (no blotches) with the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins being pale yellowish.
"Trumpeter (winter) whiting have no legal size limit but a possession limit of 50 applies; whereas sand (summer) whiting, goldenline whiting and northern whiting all have a legal size of 23 cm and a combined possession limit of 30 in total.
"Winter and summer whiting are commonly misidentified and fishers could incur an on-the-spot fine of up to $471 for getting it wrong."
Mr Bowness said some of the distinguishing features between the species can be difficult to pick up at first, so fishers should download the Qld Fishing app or find a good fish identification book to assist them in identifying whiting and other fish species.
"We urge fishers to check fish identification and fishing rules so that they are familiar with the different fish species and their size and possession limits," he said.
"If you are in doubt, return the fish to the water."
If you suspect illegal fishing, whether you see it in person or online, report it to the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.
Do not approach the people involved, as this can compromise an investigation.
For more information on Queensland fishing rules, visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free 'Qld Fishing' app from Apple and Google app stores.