Yachtie catch of the day
Fined for having fishing line dangling from his vessel in green zone
PETERAston has wandered the oceans for decades, but never imagined he’d end up as the catch of the day.
As he had done hundreds of times in the past, the veteran yachtsman had a line dragging from his yacht on a trip to Hinchinbrook Island last year.
‘‘I’ve sailed hundreds of thousands of miles around the world and everywhere I’ve been I’ve drawn a line,’’ he said.
‘‘When I catch something, I usually drag the line in.’’
But unfortunately Mr Aston’s yacht drifted into a Great Barrier Reef marine park green zone.
He was surprised to be interrupted by a fisheries officer.
‘‘It was a sunny day and I was reading a book in the cockpit. Then this guy came alongside me and told me I had a line out.
‘‘He took photos as evidence against me.’’
Mr Aston soon found himself summonsed to court, where a magistrate found him guilty of breaching the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.
The retired sailor was convicted and fined $2000 for his mistake.
Mr Aston said he had never been convicted of anything in his life, at the most a traffic fine.
‘‘I support the general principle behind the zones, and I know I shouldn’t have been dragging a line from my yacht,’’ he said.
‘‘But I didn’t know. I had been away (from Queensland) for so long and the only chart I had on board was not up to date.’’
Environment Minister Ian Campbell last week announced amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park penalty system that would not see recreational fishermen convicted for their mistakes.
He said the amended system would not be retrospective, with penalties determined under the previous system remaining.
Mr Aston said the punishment needed to fit the crime, and the legislation needed to be reversed.
‘‘The idea of having these amendments from now on and not retrospective, I’ll do anything I can to fix it,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve even written to Senator Campbell myself.’’
The worldwide sailor said he was doubtful he would ever fish again.
GIVING FISHING AWAY . . . Peter Aston on his yacht Illywhacker