Serial abalone poacher avoids jail, fined $5K

CONVICTED: A Queanbeyan has narrowly avoided jail after being caught with dozens of illegal abalone in 2015. Pictured, abalone.
CONVICTED: A Queanbeyan has narrowly avoided jail after being caught with dozens of illegal abalone in 2015. Pictured, abalone.

A Queanbeyan man with a history of Fisheries offences has narrowly avoided jail time after he was caught with more than 140 abalone at a Eurobodalla waterway more than two years ago.

Troy Adam Potts, 28, pleaded not guilty to one count of possessing prohibited size fish and a second charge of having more more than possession limit of fish in circumstances of aggravation (subsequent offence).

NSW Fisheries said Potts was found with 146 prohibited-sized abalone at Mullimburra Point, south of Moruya, in March 2015. 

Fisheries said the offence was aggravated due to the quantity being more than 14 times the commercial limit, with the minimum size of abalone in NSW being 11.7cm.

Potts was convicted following a hearing at Batemans Bay Local Court on September 28. Magistrate Doug Dick handed Potts a $5000 fine and an 18-month suspended sentence. 

Potts will be subject to a prohibition order for three years, banning him from diving in NSW waters; possessing abalone or diving gear; and being on a boat less than 10 metres in length.

His fishing and diving gear was seized and will be forfeited to the crown.

Potts’ record showed a history of abalone poaching convictions, dating back 10 years.

In 2014, Potts was fined $5000 and given a nine-month suspended sentence for possessing 298 abalone. In 2008, he was ordered to pay $600 after being caught with 641 shucked abalone.

He was sentenced to one month imprisonment for a similar offence in 2009; however, the sentence was downgraded to community service after a successful appeal.