The Cold Fish Curry Law.

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    • #1666

      Some of you may have read the recent Kimberley Tides: News from the Kimberley Marine Parks – Issue 6” newsletter I emailed to all our members a few days back. The following comment in that publication has sparked some response, and a warning to our Members heading into the Kimberley this year; Fisheries and Marine Officers ensure that people follow commercial and recreational fishing regulations, including size and bag limits, and only fish in marine park zones where fishing is permitted. These officers are also responsible for checking licences and permits for some activities within marine parks and they may ask to see required documents aboard a vessel.”

       I visited Darwin last week, and over a beer at Cullen Bay Marina with some KCCYC members, two members relayed unhappy stories of very recent interactions with the WA Fisheries patrol vessel “PV Walcott”. Both their vessels were boarded by Fisheries officers in the East Kimberley area, their vessels were searched for fish to ensure they conformed to bag and size regulations, their safety equipment was checked, and their Skippers Ticket and Fishing off a Boat Licenses were checked.

      One skipper was issued with a $200 infringement for having skinned fillets in his fridge, which he was an hour off cooking for lunch. He had caught the fish that morning and filleted them for lunch. Another skipper’s vessel was searched for NT crab traps because Fisheries knew the vessel resided in Darwin, where crab traps are legal. The skipper was told that if they found any traps on board, they would be confiscated and he would be issued with an infringement and fine.

      Another KCCYC member spoke to a senior Fisheries Department officer about these infringements, and was told that Fisheries are taking a zero tolerance approach to any infringement of the recreational fishing rules, and that they will be inspecting all vessels they come across in the Kimberley. WA Fisheries inspectors have the right to board and search your vessel. Be aware that WA Fisheries officers will also be on board the recently acquired patrol vessel that will be patrolling the new Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park, located in the Camden Sound area. The vessel is a ~20M alloy power cat.

      If you are a lawyer, or you’ve read it about 30 times like I have, you might just about be able to understand the rules outlined in the Recreation Fishing Guide 2015. Combining and interpreting the various rules makes this publication difficult to understand, but most of the individual rules are straightforward. However, there is one term used in the rules that is ambiguous and could easily lead to a fine and infringement notice for the unaware live-aboard, or coastal cruising boater. It’s the term “immediate consumption”. Here’s a few extracts from rules;

       “…. all uncooked crabs must be kept in whole form, unless being prepared for immediate consumption.”

      “Unless they are being prepared for immediate consumption or being eaten, the following species (which all have a maximum size limit) must be carried whole at sea…..”

      A reasonable person living on their boat in the Kimberley might think that “immediate consumption” could mean something like – you return from an afternoon’s fishing about 5PM, fillet the barra you are about to put on the BarBQ for dinner, put the fillets in the fridge, clean your filleting board, fishing gear, fish bin etc, then have a shower because you are dirty after handling smelly bait and cleaning the fish, make a salad, light the BarBQ, and have a beer while you are waiting for it to heat up before you cook the fillets.

      Unfortunately, you would be wrong, because as far as we can ascertain, WA Fisheries consider the term “immediate consumption” to mean, that as soon as the fish is filleted, it must be immediately cooked and consumed, and that’s how they are currently enforcing the law. So forget about being hygienic by cleaning your bait board and boat, cleaning your fishing gear, having a shower and making a salad before you cook and eat your fish – you will be committing a crime under the current zero tolerance regime.

      It also seems that any cooked fish that is not immediately consumed, cannot be kept for a cold fish sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch. Because it’s almost impossible for anyone to prove the species and size of a fish after it’s been cooked and not consumed, means that it’s illegal for you to keep cooked fish in your fridge for later consumption. So forget about keeping that leftover cold fish curry – you will be committing a crime.

      After reading this, you probably think I’m “pulling your leg”. I wish I was, but its all fact.

      I’m calling this the “Cold Fish Curry Law” A stupid name for a stupid law.

      I’m not criticizing the WA Fisheries inspectors patrolling the Kimberley coast – they are doing a very important job. But I’m very critical of the law makers who wrote the legislation and rules that the inspectors are obliged to enforce. Clearly, the law makers have never lived on a boat!!

    • #1667

      The minister in charge can be reached at


      Honourable Ken Baston MLC
      Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries

      Address: 7th Floor, Dumas House
      2 Havelock Street
      WEST PERTH WA 6005

      Telephone: (08) 6552-5000
      Fax: (08) 6552-5001

      • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by XTsea.
      • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by XTsea.
    • #1671

      Here’s the issue that highlights how silly this is for me.

      I pull in a legal Barramundi.  You ripper! That’s dinner sorted.

      The wife and I can only eat so much, so to remain on the right side of the law, I fillet off 300 grams or so, and immediately whack that on the BBQ to eat straight away.

      What do I do with the rest of the fish?  Toss it overboard.

      Stupid and wasteful.

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