Illegal nets were for protecting fruit trees: boat builder

A BOAT manufacturer has pleaded not guilty to the illegal use of commercial fishing gear on the grounds nets found at his Hervey Bay property were for protecting fruit trees from hungry birds.

Neil Oliver William Alexander is being prosecuted by the Department of Fisheries for two counts of failing to comply with regulated fishing apparatus or regulated fishing method declaration and unlawful possession of regulated fish.

Fisheries officer Neil Conway told the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court he had found commercial nets in mangroves, near crab pots registered to Mr Alexander at the end of a track from his property.

Asked whether he was aware that the person who tipped him off about nets at Mr Alexander's property, was an ex-employee of his who had allegedly "got the sack" for stealing, Mr Conway said he recalled something to that effect.

A long-term commercial fisherman told the court he had given old nets to Mr Alexander who said he wanted to put them on his fruit trees.

The hearing will continue on March 23.