Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Working in compliance I am sometimes required to make a judgement & run with it based on little or no information. Vexing. Particularly troublesome when I judge a 'clients' motivation.
Pig ignorance is (usually) met with a brochure and a smack on the wrist. I'll respond differently to knowledgable indifference and differently again to intentional villainy. So if the client is a dumbarse who hasn't endangered anyone they'll probably get a stern warning. If the client knows the rules but didn't care to check, I usualy issue a ticket. If the client has set out to break the rules, like build a poachers hold in a boat or bodge a logbook, I go in hard with court action.

Let me tell you about Tony.
Tony is not the sharpest tool on the rack, nor the brightest bulb on the tree, but he's a nice enough bloke. I don't know it for fact but I suspect there are some literacy issues going on. He's recently married and has two little girls. Tony has been a pretty unsucsessful deckhand in the district for years and finally got 'all his sh!t in one sock' and qualified as a master fisherman. He bought an old but sturdy boat, leased an authority to fish, bought some quota and took up fishing for spanner crab. Good luck to him, I hopes he makes a go of it. One of the good things about the fishing industry is that it provides opportuinties for blokes like Tony and pays in direct proportion to the effort he puts in.

Spanner Crab Fishermen have special and additional reporting obligations on top of the usual commercial fishing documentation which can be pretty over the top. For instance instead of telling us monthly how much of what was caught, they have to tell us every day where and when they will land & ballpark catch Kgs. This is so we can be there and inspect the catch as it comes off the boat.  This Prior Notice starts a whole documentation train that traces product from fisherman to retail sale, significantly it also starts the process that deducts his days catch from his remaining quota balance. I am very confident Tony got this information.

One day I'm tootling down the river and I see Tony unloading crab. Hmm, I didn't get his prior notice via SMS like I do for all the other Spanner Crab Fishermen. So we pop over to talk to Tony to see wassup.

2 hours later I'm sitting in Tony's dining room with a drift of reciepts and paperwork spread across the table.
Tony hasn't reported once in the 8 months he's been fishing.
So we havn't been notified by SMS, so we haven't inspected any of his unloads.
No paper trail has been started.
So no trigger for investigation or audit can happen as there is no such catch according to the system.
Most importantly his catch is not deducted from his remaining quota.
So theoretically he could fish forever, never be checked and never run out of quota.
Tony is holding his head in his hand telling me "I've always tried to do the right thing you know? but I didn't know I had to do this Prior Notice stuff, noone told me."
Mrs Tony is circling waiting to unload a metric ton of toe in butt on Tony when I'm done.
I have to decide. Is Tony a dumbarse or an evil genius. Has he blundered into this very fortunate situation through ignorance, or has he studied the system, identified a weakness and set out to exploit it?
It matters because it dictates how I respond.
Evil genius or dumbarse? Sh!t. I hate making calls like this.
Then a fat & glossy large white hen, yes female chicken type hen, walks out of the living room, clucks at us and then pops out the back door. I guess it had been catching some TV or something,
If you are too dumb to keep poultry off carpet, you go in the dumbarse box.
Tony got a brochure and a slap on the wrist.
[minor edit & link17/3/10 08:40]


  1. Good tale NBob, wry laugh at the end. I can see why the job has the potential (often realised) to suck a suckload of suck.

  2. Good of him to make your judgement so much easier. Great laugh yo start the day NBob.

  3. You're the right man for the job. Good laugh.

  4. Gees, I had no idea it was so tight these days.
    When I was a kid (sadly, 40 yrs ago) my dad would take me out over the bar into laguna bay spannering with a long trail of dillys that you could see on the bottom it was so bloody crystal clear out there. I used to love to hang over the bow and follow the line and tell him if there were any in the pots.
    We'd come home with a shit load of them and share them out among family and freinds in the caravan park at munna point.

  5. You need to sit down with nice cup of tea (with no milk, fun, calories or sugar) and watch a DVD called 'Gettin Square' and starring David Wenham, AKA Chris Nysts version of 'tony'.

    You've probably seen it but the bit where he's running down the street in his leopard print jockeys and his thongs will make your ponderings on human intelligence feel entirely worthwhile.

    Any more of you north coasters heading down to Brisvegas for Burger Bacon Breakfast?
    Sunday the 28th March at Lock n Load, 9am. Assuming Greybeard made the booking. Er...I better check on that.
    All you can eat Bacon and the Faff will flow free.

  6. Hughsey, it's only the commercial guys who have to jump through the hoops. Recreational rapists & plunderers only have size & bag limits to adhere to.

    Aunty Q, unlikely to make it, but fingers crossed & all. I have a policy against "breaking bread with the devil."

  7. All the more reason to turn up, so you can throw it at him.

  8. Loved the last paragraph! I think you made the right call there.

    Nbob, may I ask what it is you do? (or perhaps you don't want to be too specific on a blog, that's fine)

    I have puzzled over this for a while now.I've had you as a fisherman , a customs officer, a lawyer, soem sort of weather scientist on expedition and a marine biologist at one stage. After reading the first few sentences above I almost had you pegged as a magistrate, but I knew that was a bit out there: my imaginings are growing more outlandish...

  9. Miss Abigail, I try to keep a fire-break between my professional life & my blog exsistance. There was a salutary lesson a few months before I started blogging where an intra-departmental enemy of a Mr. X Googled him, found his blog and used the content to cause shenanigans. Hence the pseudonym and the careful omission of any searchable terms.
    I do occasionaly name the waterway I work on, but never in the same post as a job description or my employer. I'm sure a concerted effort would find me, but it's a minimum efforts if you know what I mean.

    Email me "a trap for young players at hot male dot con" and I'll tell you all.

  10. Oh yes, totally understandable.I was just laughing aloud here at the various whimsical fantasies I have had, lol. Abi

  11. Recreational rapists & plunderers???????????? as a recreational fisherman i resent that. Please state your reason for saying that NowhereBob. As yes i believe that your job is ****************, no i won't give you up, i believe we don't see enough of you guys and gals on the water. Mate if some have out of date flares, exceed the speed limits, exceed bag limits or keep undersized fish, throw the whole book at the bast&&ds. I just wish that i got support when i have reported on the hot line people that were breaking the law, the result no action, not enough staff,disapointing.

  12. Welcome Mr Anonymous.
    If you had outed me I would have simply deleted your comment for the reasons described above.
    But to answer your questions, if I took your complaint I promise you it has gone into the intelligence database we have. We then use that intel to develop plans and priorities. Somethings like black marketing (rec fishermen selling catch) are best dealt with in a plain clothes sneaky way, others like the same old "Asians taking undersise fish" complaint I have taken about a bazillion times are best responded to in uniform and ASAP. And before you even go there, I have responded to those complaints a bazillion times and only ever got one breach action from it and that was the result from 3 weeks covert work and a search warrant. Most of our New Australian friends know the rules better than round eyes and 1, Dont take regulated fish species, or 2 dump on us before we get along side.
    It is pretty unreasonable to expect us to be on standby 24/7 waiting for a call from the public. We get out & do our job and if that means I am up at the dam when a call comes in about a creek, it is just not going to get responded to. We have very limited resources we use the best we can. Disapointing, crikey I could tell you about disapointing, but I'm not going to, I'm not ready to be sacked just yet. Nearly, but not yet.

    Now as for throwing the book at them, well I use a more nuanced approach. I'm sure I've been played as a sap on occasion but really would you give a tourist family from Sydney here on holiday and not knowing which fish is which a $500 ticket for 4 undersized whiting ?
    As it is I struggle with laying hurt on otherwise nice people for a minor mistake, eg 12knots in a 6 knot zone, If I "threw the book at them" for every breach, well I don't think I could sleep at night. As it is I have several ministerial complaints grinding through the process. From clowns whose delicate petal-like feelings I've bruised.
    Now the biggy, I apologise for my glib "Recreational rapists & plunderers" line if it caused you offence. If you had seen what I have I think you'd agree that there are a distressing number of people who kill everything they can, then don't care for the catch, then throw it to the pelicans when they go home. There is an attitude out there that "if I don't kill it someone else will." It boggles my mind, but I can only act within the rules. I daily encounter people who I think it would be entirely fair to describe as recreational rapists and plunderers. and many fine and nice people.

  13. Thanks for coming back to me NowhereBob, your reply certainly has shown that you are a fair minded person and make reasonable judgement, i support that 110%. And rec fishermen selling their catch on the black market is also way out of line, if i had evidence of that happening i would report it without hesitation. Here we go mate we are now on to our Asian friends, what we get down here in prawn season (now)are what we call the yellow raincoats, castnetting prawns, now every man and his dog know that you are allowed 10 litres of prawns, these guys have their families on the pier and when they have 10 litres they motor in and unload on the pier, then return to catch more prawns,they catch very much more than they should, they have a very good network of eyes reporting whats happening around them. One of the reports i placed happened a few years ago when i had a bit more fire in the belly and i sprang half a dozen of our little immigrants cast netting in the local dam, mum following along behind with plastic shopping bags full of small and undersized fish, bass silver perch, yellowbelly and of course the noxious pest tilarpia along with firetails and other native fish. I was told by the voice on the reporting line, oh, we are all up the Sunshine Coast the Spotties are running, sorry we can't help, fair enough i thought so i challenged the Asians about cast netting, i must admit i got pretty loud and told them where to go, now i must also admit, i'm not a little bloke, probably about twice the size of one of them, anyway i rounded them up and chased them back to their cars and saw them on their way, i then reported the cars rego numbers. In hindsight it must have been quite funny, a big Aussie climbing out of his tree at half a dozen Asians, probably should not have done it.
    You guys should not be expected to be on hand 24/7, that is just unrealistic, what should happen is that staff levels and all associated equipment built up to enable the job at hand to be undertaken in a professional maner, which would really make a difference.
    I have been in the past, a professional fisherman (over thirty years ago)and have been a recreational angler for around fifty odd years, i have fished a lot of competitions,fished both salt and freshwater, fished for fun and yes there are some out there that fit the mould you cast. These people, by the way can come from both sides of the divide, rec and pro, i don't call them either rec or pro, i just call them scum.
    Mate, i think if you continue to hand out judgement i believe you could not do better than you have to date

  14. Hey you guys. Interesting exchange of views. I don't think you're that far apart in sympathies, even if you're standing on opposite sides of the (sand)bar.

  15. Nowhere Bob.. We need more ************** like you..As a commercial guy , yeah spanners too , I can see the funny and not so funny side of your blog. As for the regulations,, part of the business and our fishery is recognised world wide for its management and compliance.not so in other states.{no names NSW}.I have no problem whatsoever with the quota system.
    As for black marketeers and dodgy fisherman,rec and pro, I hope they all get wiped out. But thats your job. And it sounds like you have a level headed way of approaching things, a big task, and frankly not a job for me.Having said that I wish you the best in your quest..
    Though one day I was boarded while crabbing and the guys questioned why I had 10 kilos of undersized crab on board,, I pointed out that was the bin I placed the CRABS TO BE MEASURED. common practise but according to this guy I should have measured it as I picked it from the dilly. A bloke only has two hands but anyway this guy wouldnt budge from his hardline stance and wanted to throw the book at me. Thank god his obviously more senior colleague settled him and explained it all with a bit of a chuckle. you guys..



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I was the proud recipient of the worlds first monkeys ass to human face transplant. Friends of the donor monkey says it took well, I'm not so sure.