Seized boat crushed by Queensland Fisheries.

Fisheries Queensland dramatic destruction of an illegally modified tinnie.

Fisheries Queensland recently released a video showing the dramatic destruction in a wrecking yard of an illegally modified tinnie that was seized by authorities last year.

The boat was impounded after Fisheries officers observed the occupants pulling up crab pots, yet couldn’t find a sizeable number of crabs aboard during an inspection. The boat was sent to a local police station, where telescopic cameras revealed it had a hidden compartment containing a large stash of illegal undersize mud crabs.


Three people were eventually fined the not inconsiderable sum of $20,000. They were charged with obstruction (and bizarrely, two were also charged with “making false and misleading statements about being asleep on the boat” — seriously?). For good measure, their boat, trailer, and crab pots were forfeited to the state.

Which leads us to the dramatic video above. A quick view might have you believe that the government is destroying a perfectly good tinnie that could instead have been sold, with the revenue benefitting things like boat ramps in sore need of maintenance.

Telescopic cameras were used to find the secret compartment. Inside were 37 bags containing a large stash of undersize mud crabs.

While it certainly seems that way, this isn’t quite what is going on in this video. According to a Queensland Government media release, the boat was worth just $6000. Since it was illegally modified, the hull should not be returned to the boating community where it could potentially be used to re-offend.

That’s fair and sensible. But what about the outboard and trailer? They weren’t illegally modified, and as you can clearly see in the video, both were very much still attached to the boat.

As it turned out, the video caused an uproar when it was released, with almost a quarter of a million people watching it on the Fisheries Queensland Facebook page alone.

With so many eyeballs watching the destruction, a common theme quickly emerged in the comments: why did the government not salvage the trailer and motor?

Again, it’s tempting to think of this as the oafish act of an overzealous government department, keen to make a very loud public statement about what a good job they’re doing. But once more, what you see is not quite what you thought. In fact, this is where things get a bit strange…


The ‘fake’ outboard

So noticeable was the public response about the government ‘wasting’ an otherwise functioning boat engine that Fisheries Queensland felt compelled to issue a clarification about their dramatic video.

“The working outboard motor originally used in the illegal operation was not part of the destruction and will be sold. An unserviceable motor was used in the destruction. The crab pots have been auctioned off.”


Wait, what? Let’s get straight.

  • The government seizes the boat.
  • They remove the original outboard.
  • A new, non-functioning outboard is attached instead.
  • They film the whole thing in a very dramatic fashion. Note how the video has multiple camera angles — this wasn’t a video that someone spontaneously shot on their phone, but a planned piece of publicity.
  • The video is released and there is no immediately obvious mention of the ‘fake’ outboard.
  • Almost 250,000 people see the video. Everyone instantly believes that Fisheries destroyed re-usable marine gear that could have instead have been sold to maintain local boat ramps.
  • Finally, well after the fact, they reveal that the engine in the video is a ‘fake’ that was added to the original seized boat.

It all seems… rather peculiar, doesn’t it?


Have your say

We can’t quite put our finger on it. Can you?

At best? This planned publicity stunt didn’t quite go as planned. While Fisheries definitely got the publicity, they persuaded thousands of angry anglers that they’re a wasteful and inefficient government department. Whoever manages media releases like this one for Fisheries Queensland really ought to reconsider how they do things.

At worst? Let’s just say we’d be keen to see the receipts that show when the motor and pots were sold, as claimed.