In a court case at Karratha, a 35 year-old man pleaded guilty to possessing a green sawfish rostrum and was ordered to pay $6,953.
All species of sawfish are totally protected in Western Australia, because they are listed as critically endangered and WA is one of the only places in the world where a viable population of green sawfish exists.
Joshua Wayne HOBBY said he was given the rostrum, which is 96cm long, as a gift when he was just a young boy. He kept it as an ornament until it was seized by WA Police, who searched his residence in Nickol back in late May 2018.
On Thursday (13 December 2018) Karratha Court heard that, while Hobby had not taken the sawfish himself, the demand for sawfish as trophies or ornaments creates a market for fishermen who take them and there was a significant need for general deterrence at every stage.
Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer at Karratha Michael Dunne said community members have an important role to play here, if they become aware of suspected illegal fishing or trade of sawfish ornaments.
“Sometimes the broad and remote coastline of Western Australia’s north may be used to illegally take sawfish, so we need community members to report any suspicious fishing activity by calling FishWatch on 1800 815 507,” Mr Dunne said.
“FishWatch operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and any information the community can provide about the illegal take of sawfish, or even private trading of sawfish (including rostrums used as ornaments), will be considered very valuable.
“Green sawfish are in need of every action possible to reverse its population decline globally and rather than having a rostrum in a ‘man cave’ it would be better for rostrums to be attached to a live sawfish swimming free in Pilbara and Kimberley marine environments or rivers.
“We don’t want the sawfish to go extinct in our State, like it has in many parts of the world.
“The fine of almost $7,000 handed down is a measure of how seriously the illegal fishing of this totally protected species is judged by the courts.”
It is illegal to be in possession of a sawfish rostrum, or to catch and retain any sawfish in WA.
Source: WA DPIRD