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Reality Bites -

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(generated from captions) I'm gonna have my mobile on. MAN: If we have problems, It's 2:30am on Tasmania's east coast. a crack squad are meeting. At a small country police station, will be out on first daylight With a bit of luck, the target

we'll be able to get and, hopefully, of him with the gear. some sort of video or still footage in relation to firearms. And there's also a warrant and carries it on his person, Supposed to have a Ruger pistol that we have. according to the information a covert operation. They're setting up It could be a long night. we've got the warrants anyway, But, basically, so we'll do the intercept and search his house. and we will then go from there about concealed weapons, With intelligence not your average poacher. it sounds like this guy's The squad splits up. In the darkness, vantage points along the cliff tops. the surveillance team find Yeah, go, mate. MAN ON RADIO: I'm out on the bluff, till daylight. so I won't get to see much in case I go off the edge. I can't move too far Roddie, do you copy? MAN ON RADIO: Corps centre. Yeah, go, mate. hang back, The squad leader and his team playing a waiting game. keeping tabs on what's happening, in a similar area MAN ON RADIO: Probably working it yesterday. where I saw our mate,

to keep an eye on him. Yeah, roger. So we're able with a zoom lens. Hopefully, get a snap or something 6:18.

to get over there, maybe. Might take him an hour freezes in the scrub, While the surveillance team wild South West Coast, 200km away on Tasmania's the police flagship 'Van Diemen' the most beautiful places on earth. begins a 3-day patrol through one of We're pulling the pick. It's, um...6:30am, 6:45am.

We have a nice high over us. The weather's gonna be good. working life at sea, away from home. I have spent at least a third of my a lot of good friends out of that, And I've made my family, my kids and my wife, but at the same token, I'm away from and that's a bit hard. I even find that hard now. I still find it hard to go away. After all these years, some cray-pot marker buoys, The crew have spotted a new marine sanctuary. which look like they might be inside where the boundaries are, The guys aren't sure

they need to check with head office. so before they seize any gear, which shows us that. Yeah, we've got the map, didn't have the definition, But it just on that. so we're just checking with you in a sanctuary zone, We've just got some gear so it's obviously not allowed. is a rock-lobster pot, What we've got here in a protected zone. which has been set up with the owner of the pot, So we'll be seizing it and taking it

if we can find out who he is. is an area of water The marine reserve set aside for protection of fish. and the taking of fish. It's an area prohibited for fishing the stocks in this area And, hopefully, to areas outside the reserve. breed up and move on out there about 100m, This line actually runs off here, and ends at that point over there. inside the line, mate, John, it looks like the second pot's so we'll grab that too. Roger. The laws we've got to enforce and that many exceptions to them can get that complicated to try and keep up-to-date. that we're always careful we check up in the books And anything we don't know as right as we can, yeah. and try and get it

the Bathurst Channel, We're now entering not far up of here and we should locate a boat or probably at Schooner Cove. The skipper knows his stuff. will be somewhere down the channel. He reckons the boat they're after coming out of Bathurst Channel. We've located the yacht that had the pots in Most likely the guys will have a talk to them. and the boys

How have I sinned? Anyway, what have I done wrong? I got when I got my licence, I mean, I did check the publication on that. and there's nothing in there Here's your book back. Marine police understand some of the new laws can be. how confusing a bit of give and take. They know when to apply We'll return these pots to you

an official caution, OK? and I'll send you out

on your record, So, it'll be recorded so any further infringements,

you're likely to be...OK? similar things,

halfway through my law degree Well, I guess I got this isn't really for me." and I thought, "Oh, God, you might as well finish it off, But you get halfway, which is what I did. Now, which one's yours, Richard? This top one. Mine is this top one. we've got with that one The other issue is the buoy isn't correctly marked. That was my mistake. I mean, really, if you ask me, about commonsense policing is a lot more than degrees or anything like that. but not as much as you might think. So it helped me a little bit, was it any good there, anyway? Now, tell me, I mean, coming in. I mean, it was pretty rough Meanwhile, back on the east coast, is finally over. it looks like the long wait Just so you're aware, about 5 or 10 minutes from the ramp. our target vessel's only probably we'll be as quick as possible Thanks, mate, when we're right. and we'll give you a hoy

by the surveillance team. The target vessel has been identified but there's also another one Yeah, roger, there's that one here, of tank on the back of it. that's a processor type Yeah, roger. Yeah, we've spoken with the boss a bit more. and he said we can work it up prepare to make their move. The intercept team

on this one. The police aren't taking any chances

could be carrying a pistol. The target we're just gonna start off Alright, mate, having a look in your boat. turn this pump off. Yeah, sure, I'll just

So, what were you doing today - recreational or commercial? No, I went out and caught a few banded morwong today. For yourself, as in recreational? No.

Using your commercial licence? In Tasmania, you can't fish recreationally and commercially at the same time. Are you gonna fill out the logbook?

Oh, absolutely, at the end of the day. So, today you were commercially fishing? Well, when I'm all finished up, yeah. But I can't tell you anymore than that at the moment. I'm sorry, I can't. But I got no problem with you guys. It's sweet. It's not a hard question, sir. You were either commercially fishing or you were recreationally fishing. No, well, sometimes I do both. Today what were you doing? Can't say. Can't say. You're making me wonder whether you've done something wrong. Yeah, no, I haven't, to be honest, but... But raising our suspicions somewhat. No! No. No, no, look... But that's what you've done. No, I've gone out, caught banded morwong, and that's that. OK. Yeah, sweet, and two parrots. (Laughs nervously) How about that one? Wonderful. That's the one you were after the whole time, I reckon.

Crayfish have to be a minimum size. He isn't a professional cray fisherman, and all of his crays must have their tails clipped so they can't be sold. Got their doovers all chopped. OK. We've got two shotgun cartridges. As I said, you're not advised to say or do anything unless you wish to. No. I know. I just didn't. OK, yep. You're aware of that caution? Yes. I'll ask you again, are you aware of the provisions relating to the storage of ammunition? Um...well, I'm not totally clear on the laws about when you're at work, taking it with you, as we are now on the boat at work with it. Have you got the firearm with you? No. Locked in its safe. OK, then why do you take the ammunition?

Um... Well, don't know, just didn't end up locked away at the time, so to speak. OK. Yeah. One of the reasons that we're here is that we've received information that you're in possession of a pistol. Oh! No! Absolutely not. A small-calibre pistol.

So, we need to satisfy ourselves that that's not the case. Yeah, yeah. Look, 100%, mate. A small-calibre pistol, I mean, that's...that's off the show, between you and me, because I am... What I intend to do is have a look at your residence, OK? Yeah, alright. To make sure that you haven't got a pistol, OK? Yeah, that's sweet. Oh, well, yeah. Come up and have a sneak. I just wanna be sure you haven't got a firearm on you. No, no, no. Hell, no. Come on up.

Wouldn't mind just dropping your wet-weathers for us?

No, 100%. Good. No, sweet. If you can just pull them right down so we can... Come on up and check it out. Please, turn your pockets out? We'll do that, mate, and we'll get out of your hair. Yeah, no, we're not talking. We've got zero guns. Why would someone say that? I can't answer that, mate. I'm torn by that. We've received information...

Well, come and have a look for yourself. As the squad moves off to search the fisherman's house,

'Van Diemen' heads deeper into the wilderness.

The shallow waters of Bathurst Harbour are the colour of black tea. This is the only waterway in southern Australia where there's been no human impact. It's one of the most important marine sanctuaries in Australia. Yeah, we'll go up further and have a look at the orange-bellied parrots. Well, these birds are a very small bird.

They're a rare bird, very special bird to Tasmania. Now there's less than 2m of water under the big boat, and the skipper needs his wits about him as the narrow channel becomes even shallower. MACHINE BEEPS

That's the alarm going off saying we've run out of water. It's a narrow channel. It's black water, but shallow water. I could go a bit further, but I'm not going to. The crew head to Melaleuca.

The reflections are beautiful, aren't they? It's a wild and lonely place. This is where the orange-bellied parrot breeds. There's only 50 pairs of these birds left in the world, and volunteer birdwatchers keep a constant vigil here.

The police presence is a comfort to the birdos. How are you? Good. How are you? Any parrots about or is it the wrong time? Well, there are a few. I think there are a few. Yesterday someone spotted a couple, that would be people that have gone, so they've stopped feeding them. But they're still about, probably the juveniles. Later that day, 'Van Diemen' heads up the coast north of Port Davey.

There's calm weather on the way, and this means the abalone fleet will be out in force. We've come across an abalone mother ship. We're going to launch the 'Little Diemen' and the crew. They'll check the ship for fish and paperwork. On a bad day down here, it's a horrible place. It's wet, it's windy, it's cold.

So divers, they can't come down here in rough weather. They can't get in the water. They can't get to where the abalone are on the bottom. So, you'll find that weather like this, every man and his dog is out. MAN: There's two sorts of abalone boats that we check. One is where the diver will dive out of his own runabout. The other way is where a larger boat, called a mother ship, will go away for several days. And from that mother ship they will run dinghies.

Each one of these abalone is worth around $50. And the tanks of this mother ship are just about full. Abalone is an expensive item. Because of that, large amounts of money are involved in it.

Also, the abalone industry in Tasmania is worth a lot of money to the state. And, at the end of the day, it's a living creature

and if too many are taken and the fishing of the abalone isn't controlled, they could be wiped out. G'day, mate. How are you? Yeah, not too bad. Yourself? Diving for abalone is like picking up $50 notes off the bottom of the ocean. That's why a lot of divers are willing to risk hypothermia, the bends and shark attack.

You have to be tough to dive for abs.

Your pirate days, poacher days have gone. There's too much money involved. These guys can't afford to get caught doing the wrong thing. They can lose their fishing licence. They can lose their boat, and they just don't do it. It's their livelihood. Years ago they'd know that something was happening that wasn't right, they wouldn't say anything. These days it's like, "Joe Blow's up the coast here. He's doing this.

"Something needs to be done about it." No problems or anything? Everything's pretty cruisy? Pretty good, yeah. Back on the east coast, they're almost at the fisherman's house.

Yep, we've done an inspection of the gentleman's boat and vehicle at the boat ramp. We've advised him that we received information that he's in possession of a pistol, which he shouldn't have. He hasn't got a licence to have a pistol. He's then agreed to us going to his house and conducting a search of his house, where we can attempt to locate the pistol, if he has indeed got it. You've got ammunition in there? In that wardrobe, a couple of .22s. You've got ammunition in the storage cupboard.

Again, are you aware of the provisions relating to the storage? Oh...yeah.

See, ammunition in here... check this out.

It is separate, you see. Yep. There's a conscious effort to keep the two apart. PHONE RINGS The police have found illegally stored ammunition, but the fisherman continues to be helpful.

What you're saying is that's something you've overlooked. Yeah. It's nice, isn't it? Mmm. Right, just bear with me. You're right. Senior Constable Korn will write some details down shortly.

That's hand gun ammunition - .44 Magnum. But I haven't got the rifle to go with it yet. It's on lay-by. It's due at Woods'. I'll tell you whatever you want to know. Thanks very much. I appreciate that. So we have a...this is your 30-30, is it? No, no, no. That's a .220 Swift. That ammo doesn't fit anything in that cupboard, anyway. And so there's a box of Winchester.

.22cm-long ammunition on the top shelf. Here's a .25 06.

He's got a Winchester lever. Yep. 30-30. Yeah, no, fair enough. The search moves deeper into the house, then into the bedroom. You realise we're gonna search.

I'd appreciate it if you've got it here, if you could produce it. I don't have one! I don't have one! I'm not saying you've got it. I don't have one. I really... That's fine. You know? I've got no concern about you finding a gun. 'Cause that's just, like, off the planet. You'd think if you had a hand gun, though, you'd stash it, like, really stash it, if you know what I mean? We wouldn't try to second-guess too many things, mate.

OK. Yeah, all her PJs and stuff. More cartridges in here. That was the only thing that blew me last time, was they pulled all the stuff out. So, they don't even belong to anything I've got, half of them. Further shotgun cartridge in the top drawer. Yeah, so, anyway, they went through all this stuff last time

and just left it! In here, octopuses, fillets of fish...

Back outside there's a freezer to check. And a snake. Yes. We've got a snake. Very nasty. He's got freezers in the yard. Check it out. Oh, hang on. Blue shark fins. There's something of interest. Well, not really, know. He's got freezers in the paddock. You right? Yep. Have a squiz. They're frozen, just for... Mind if we sample a bag? No! Absolutely, look. Here. Um... I've got a knife if you want one. Yeah, that's...yeah, that's OK. You know what I'm saying? You know what I'm saying? We've got this far. I wanna show you that... there's no drama.

Do you agree that that's not clipped? Oh, look here. Look at this one! Yeah, do you agree that they're not clipped? Yeah, no, no, look, honestly...'cause they should be. Unclipped and undersized. This is the fisherman's worst nightmare. Again bearing in mind the caution I gave you, can you give me an explanation as to why you've got an undersized crayfish in your possession? I have no idea why I'd have a crayfish that's that much under the measure. Did you catch all of the crayfish in this freezer? No, my friends caught some as well. Were you with the people when they caught them? Um...I don't know. You told me earlier in the boat that you'd also caught the crayfish this morning. Yeah, before I went to work. Before you went to work. In one trip? No, this morning I had to go out and bait up

and then come back and throw the nets in the boat and then go. OK, so, what time did you first go out?

Oh, hell, early. Five o'clock, I suppose. That's all I can tell you because that's all there is to it. Are you aware that you're not allowed to recreationally fish whilst you're commercially fishing? Yes, definitely. You're fully aware of that? Oh, yeah. I believe that you made one trip, and that you did, in fact, recreationally fish whilst you were commercially fishing. Would you like to make a comment on that?

No, no, no. I don't want to make any more comments. Is that true or false? That's it. We'll leave it at that.

Would you like to answer the question 'is it true or false'? No, we'll just leave it at that. OK. Alright. As I've told you, I believe that you only made one trip. With that in mind I'm gonna seize the crayfish from your boat. Yeah. Come down and do what you need to do. Seven. Throw that little one away. That's bad. That is really embarrassing. That is...I mean, I know what all the other stuff you think is wrong, but that little one is bad. Back down south and the morning is one out of the box. How's it going? Alright? Alright. Not having any problems down here? Anything we need to know about or should know about? No, mate. I haven't noticed anything, no.

No dramas. We'll leave you to it. OK, then. 'Van Diemen' heads due south to the fabled Maatsuyker Island.

This is not a sightseeing trip. It's the most remote lighthouse in Australia, and the police need to make sure and the pllice nee to make sure that the volunteer keepers are OK. BARKING Look at that big fella up on there. Maatsuyker is home to a huge colony of southern fur seals. It's gonna be very slippery. They're large, loud and smelly, but the police still need to check if there are any injured or sick.

Looks like it's fast up that way. Or do you reckon you go that way? Never been on there. It's a long hike up through the scrub to the lighthouse keeper's cottage. For most of the year, this is one of the wildest places on the Tasmanian coast. Good to meet you, Trevor. What can we do for you? Oh, we're just paying a visit, saying hello. Good for you. Would you like to come in?

The keepers have a bird's-eye view

of the comings and goings in the Southern Ocean. For pretty well nine days, I think, in March we had gale-force winds on every day. Really? Mmm. So, what's the go today? You're on operations or patrols or what? Patrolling. Yeah, yeah. I'm doing what people like to do of a weekend. I'm on the water, in boats. I work outside. People would love to do this, and I do it for a living, and I enjoy myself.

It's set up so that it would shine a very sharp beam of light out to sea. There's about 600 different glass elements in there. And it's set up so that... I think it's the continually changing... ..all the different things you get to do. You couldn't call it a humdrum job. It's all good. Over the years I still love the whole range of the work that I do.

I still love getting out on the ropes, going underground, diving - the whole lot, basically. I grew up by the water. Boating, swimming, fishing, diving has basically been activities that I've carried out ever since I was a child. So, a good way of doing a job and doing something that I love doing.

CONSTABLE STANLEY: I was at Maatsuyker this morning, and we were in 60ft of water on the anchor, and I was watching seals on the bottom.

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