DOUBLE TROUBLE: A high seas raid led to two drug driving charges against a trawler skipper, one at sea and the other when he brought the vessel home to port.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: A high seas raid led to two drug driving charges against a trawler skipper, one at sea and the other when he brought the vessel home to port. Bill North

Trawler raid nets skipper on marijuana

A MAJOR police, Border Force and fisheries raid on a trawler in the Coral Sea off Fraser Island resulted in a drug-driving charge against its skipper, Gympie Magistrates Court was told this week.

Southside fisherman Stephen Mark Tracey, 59, was doubly unlucky.

Police tested him again when he returned the trawler to Lee Fisheries at Tin Can Bay, with a second positive result.

Tracey pleaded guilty to operating a trawler on December 8 at sea off Fraser Island and on December 12 in Snapper Creek, with marijuana derivative in his saliva.

"At 6.55pm, a joint raid by Queensland police, Australian Border Force and fisheries, boarded a vessel in the Coral Sea as part of Operation Shallow Water," the prosecutor said.

The second charge resulted when Gympie police attended Lee Fisheries.

"He was the skipper and he had just arrived via Tin Can Inlet," she said.

He told police he had smoked a joint a couple of days earlier while at sea.

Police argued the matter was serious because Tracey was operating a commercial boat around Fraser Island, where he would come across recreational vessels.

"He had a responsibility towards the people on his boat and other vessels," she said.

In response to police calls for Tracey to lose his skipper licence as well as his car licence, Tracey told the court he had already been without his driving licence for two months after December 12.

"If you take my marine licence off me I will be on Centrelink and there is a good chance I will lose my house," he said.

"When are you going to stop taking drugs?," magistrate M. Bice asked.

"I already have, sir," Tracey said.

He fined Tracey $250 on the first charge and $500 on the second and said he was on "one last chance" not to lose his marine licence.

Gympie Times


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