Shark fin haul has day in court

RAINBOW Beach shark netting contractor has stepped aside from his role while he faces eight fisheries charges, believed to include unauthorised shark fin possession matters.

Gregory Bruce Pearce, 39, appeared in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday on charges which followed a Fisheries Department raid on a Rainbow Beach property in June last year.

They include allegations of Fisheries Act offences last year on April 6, between May 5 and 10, on or about May 12, May 21 and August 17.

A Fisheries Queensland spokesperson said the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol had in June, 2016, started an investigation into alleged illegal fishing activities involving a Shark Control Program contractor at Rainbow Beach in June 2016.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries started legal proceedings, filing a complaint and summons on August 16, 2017.

In the Gympie Magistrate's Court yesterday, the matter was adjourned until December 21.

The spokesperson said no further comment would be made by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries while the matter was before the courts.

"On 18 August, 2017, the contractor voluntarily agreed to cease operating the contract for the Shark Control Program at Rainbow Beach pending legal proceedings," the spokesperson said.

"The Shark Control Program at Rainbow Beach is continuing to operate and is being serviced by the Sunshine Coast-based contractor."

The department did not answer questions about whether it was continuing to pay the contractor who had stood aside.

It has previously acknowledged that raids in Rainbow Beach in June, 2016, resulted in the seizure of four sets of shark fins found in a freezer at one property.

Shark finning is illegal in Queensland with strict rules in place to protect breeding adults and to discourage any potential for black marketing of shark and their fins.

Queensland legislation requires anyone taking a shark fin to retain the body of the shark whilst at sea.

The department said the rule was in place to act as a deterrent to targeting the animals for their fins alone.