29 September 2023

Rise in illegal fishing on South Coast leads to compliance crackdown for long weekend

| Claire Fenwicke
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Fisheries officer conducting compliance checks

Extra fisheries officers will be conducting compliance checks along the South Coast this October long weekend. Photo: NSW DPI/Facebook.

A “dramatic” increase in diving for lobsters and abalone on the South Coast, along with other illegal fishing practices, means fisheries officers will be out in force this October long weekend.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has launched Operation Alpha Delta, which aims to detect, disrupt and report illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity along the southern NSW coastline.

NSW DPI deputy director general Sean Sloan said they would be conducting high profile and overt operations to reduce the risk to our water resources through increasing awareness, education and engagement, along with compliance monitoring and enforcing fisheries laws for those who intentionally break the law.

“Over the last few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in diving for lobsters and abalone on the South Coast, with more and more participants emerging each year,” he said.

“This has also coincided with an increase in land-based rock fishing and intertidal collecting.

“While the majority of recreational anglers support recreational bag and size limits, there are those who intentionally set out to break the rules and whose actions impact heavily on the sustainability of our fisheries resources.”

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The operation will spread from Shoalhaven to the Victorian border, with Jervis Bay Marine Park and Batemans Marine Park to be specifically targeted.

“In addition, fisheries officers will be out across the state this spring and summer ensuring fishers are following the rules to help safeguard our fish stocks for current and future generations,” Mr Sloan said.

He explained daily bag and possession limits had been established to ensure recreational fishers could share the resources and lawfully take a “reasonable number” of each species.

Minimum size limits are in place for some species to minimise the risk to fish stocks, ensuring there are enough adult fish to maintain sustainable populations.

Catching and taking fish before they have had the chance to breed can detrimentally impact the sustainability of fish stocks for future generations.

There are different bag, possession and size limits on each breed, and they also depend on whether they are a saltwater or freshwater fish.

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For Mr Sloan, the message was simple:

“This summer if you are out and about and enjoying the opportunity to fish or collect on our beautiful South Coast of NSW, please make sure you know your fish bag and size limits, protected species and our Marine Park Sanctuary Zones where fishing is prohibited and don’t forget to get a fishing licence,” he said.

If you see or suspect illegal fishing activity, report it to the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536 or online.

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