Andrew Thompson –
A diver accused of using a gaff to catch two crayfish has been cleared of the charge and awarded $7700 in legal costs.
Timothy John Goodall, 56, of Lava Street, Warrnambool, told fisheries officers he had simply ‘‘tickled’’ the fish to catch them. But after finding the gaff (a fishing hook) under the boat they issued him with an infringement notice for $597.
Yesterday magistrate Ian von Einem found that there was not enough evidence to prove the fisheries officers’ claims.
Fisheries officer Troy Duthie said at an earlier court hearing that on January 13 last year he had been on patrol off the coast of Warrnambool in a rubber boat when at 11.10am he saw a white vessel which belonged to Mr Goodall anchored off Eagle Rock Reef.
He said he asked Mr Goodall how he had gone and then offered to measure his two crayfish, which were in a yellow catch bag. Mr Duthie said the two smallish crayfish were extremely sluggish and he asked Mr Goodall if he had hypnotised them.
He said he then noticed damage to the underside of the tail of one and damage to the chest of another.
The officer said he indicated to his fellow officer Lenny O’Brien that something was not right and Mr O’Brien entered the water.
Mr Duthie said he then started a search of Mr Goodall’s boat and scuba gear before Mr O’Brien surfaced with a metal gaff.