A Victorian man has been busted by NSW DPI Fisheries Officers at Merimbula with 106 yellowfin bream.
The holidaymaker was one of 10 people apprehended across NSW following a series of covert and overt operations by from the elite Statewide Operation and Investigations Unit (SOIG).
Fisheries officers were watching the Victorian man and then searched his holiday cabin. Inside they found fish in breeding condition. The man is expected to be prosecuted for the offence, which carries a maximum penalty of $44,000.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, says the SOIG teams are working with local fisheries officers using a wide variety of sophisticated investigation techniques.
“We have had some great results across NSW on the North Coast, Illawarra, Hunter and South Coast,” he says.
“We have a range of surveillance technologies available to us and we’re employing them across the state.
“The vast majority of fishers do the right thing – there is a small minority that does the illegal fishing and those responsible need to think about whether they’re being watched by our fisheries officers,” Mr Tully says.
Apart from the offence uncovered at Merimbula other operations include:
- A man from Iluka, on the North Coast was found allegedly trying to rort the rules around commercial crab trapping. He is alleged to have exceeded the trap limit on his mud crab trapping licence after fisheries officers observed him tending at least 26 crab traps. Some of the traps were unmarked and at least one bore the markings of another commercial fisher.
- In response to complaints about undersized School Prawns being sold for bait DPI Fisheries officers from Maclean seized approximately 575 kg of illegally retained prawns. The prawns were returned to the waters of Lake Wooloweyah and five commercial fishers were issued penalty notices of $1500 each.
- A man from Towradgi, in the Illawarra was allegedly found taking too many lobsters from Wollongong Harbour in a pre-dawn sting by officers from SOIG’s Southern Regional Mobile Squad. The man was apprehended and he later made admissions about the illegal possession of 17 lobsters. He now faces charges of possessing a commercial quantity of a priority species, which carries a maximum penalty of $44,000.
- Two men from Newcastle were found illegally possessing 13 Eastern Rock Lobsters, three of which were prohibited size near Port Stephens. SOIG officers observed a man leave a boat with the lobsters in an attempt to evade detection. The man was apprehended with the lobsters and the skipper was later detained at a boat ramp. Each man faces a maximum penalty of $44,000 each for possession of a commercial quantity of a priority species and prohibited size lobsters.