A Canberra man suspected of illegally selling fish has been nabbed at Batemans Bay.
Fisheries officers apprehended the 48-year-old from Bruce, ACT, following a surveillance operation by the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (NSW DPI) Statewide Operations and Investigations Group.
Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully says the man was observed allegedly exchanging fish for a quantity of cash at Hanging Rock boat ramp, without a commercial authority.
“Any person convicted of such an offence could face a maximum penalty of $110,000 for taking fish for sale when not the holder of a commercial fishing licence,” Mr Tully says.
NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo says rules and regulations regarding the illegal sale of fish are in place for a reason.
“The illegal sale of seafood by unlicensed fishers not only poses a health risk to consumers, it also threatens the reputation of the legitimate NSW seafood industry who invest vast amounts of time and money to produce a safe product,” Dr Szabo says.
In another incident near Batemans Bay, fisheries officers, targeting illegal lobster fishing apprehended a 37-year-old local man who was found in possession of 11 Eastern Rock Lobsters, one of which was of prohibited size, after diving at Garden Bay in Malua Bay.
“The daily bag limit and possession limit for Eastern Rock Lobster is two, these limits are to stop unlicensed fishers from accumulating large quantities of these high-value species so they don’t end up on the black market and threaten the livelihood of licensed operators,” Mr Tully says.
“The man is expected to be issued with a court attendance notice where he could face maximum penalties of $66,000 in fines or 12 months in prison, or both.”
DPI Fisheries also monitors illegal seafood sales of fish on social media.
“While many legitimate seafood businesses use social media to market their products, consumers should make sure they don’t buy fish from illegal, backyard operators, who are easy to spot,” Mr Tully says.
“Fisheries officers have recently prepared two offence briefs relating to illegal sales online and it is planned that the sellers will be issued court attendance notices.”
Anyone spotting illegal fishing activity can call the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536, make a report via the NSWDPI website, or via the free FishSmart NSW app available from the App Store or Google Play.