Undersized scallop catch costs fisherman $20k, mental health
TWO hauls of scallops cost a fisherman almost $20,000 and his mental health after he was charged for keeping undersized catch.
Sam Lo Surdo pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court to three counts of unlawful possession of regulated fish after the Department of Fisheries inspected his more than 5900kg catch in 2017.
The court heard the two loads were caught on a boat mastered by the commercial fisherman between November 12-21.
While a small percentage of the catch is legally able to be undersized, Lo Surdo's haul was 18 per cent undersized.
The first load was subjected to a 16-minute inspection by fisheries officers who measured some of the scallops on top of the load and determined their size to be fine.
Those scallops were taken to Slade Fisheries and Lo Surdo took his trawler back to the same spot, believing the catch he would get would be to regulations.
While on the boat, Lo Surdo got a call from Slade Fisheries that the scallops delivered were undersized.
Lo Surdo went to another area in an attempt to catch more appropriate scallops, but when he returned to port a fisheries officer was waiting to inspect the second load which also contained undersized catch.
Officers also found 100 dead pipefish in a bag in a freezer on board the boat, despite the bag limit for the fish being 50.
Lo Surdo claimed his deckhand hadn't told him about the pipefish until they were dead, so he thought there was no point throwing them back.
According to Lo Surdo's lawyer, his client has been impacted so greatly by being convicted for keeping undersized catch he believes he's had a nervous breakdown.
Lo Surdo has reportedly only returned to sea for 44 days since the incident and is now seeking medical assistance for his mental health issues.
His lawyer argued for no conviction to be recorded as Lo Surdo had no criminal history and was hoping to retire in the Philippines and teach fishing techniques.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said as Lo Surdo was the holder of a commercial fishing licence what happened on the boat was his responsibility.
Lo Surdo was fined $8000 and ordered to forfeit the more than $10,500 he earned selling the scallops with no conviction recorded.