Skipper fined $2000 for cutting through reef protected zone

CUTTING the corner by 661m to travel through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park's most protected zone has seen a Hervey Bay skipper fined $2000.

In December 2011, Paul Arthur Warren, 47, navigated his prawn trawler, Crystal Enterprise, through the restricted pink zone off Gladstone.

The pink preservation area makes up less than 1% of the GBRMP and has blanket restrictions for no extractive activities - and is a no-go area for the general public.

Transmitter monitoring downloaded from the offending trawler by authorities in July 2012, showed the master of the vessel was liable for maximum fines of $110,000.

Commonwealth prosecutor barrister Madonna Hayes said Mr Warren, despite his 20 years of experience as a skipper, stated he didn't even know the pink zones were there.

"When asked how he knows if he's trawling in the wrong space, Mr Warren said he's been trawling for so long - he just knows," Ms Hayes said.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell said Mr Warren should have consulted zoning maps, which were stored on board in a cupboard.

"The defendant's comments show at the very least negligence and a disregard for the protection zones," Mr Tatnell said.

He said yesterday's penalty was significantly reduced because the boat had not been fishing.

Mr Warren's conviction was recorded. He was fined $2000 and $81.10 in court costs.



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