An experienced spear fisherman and former spear fishing record-holder has been convicted of killing six Blue Groper at Evans Head.
He has been forced to pay fines and costs of around $3,660 plus court costs.
The Blue Groper is NSW’s official state fish and has been protected for many years.
‘It is extremely disappointing to see this type of blatant disregard for the rules especially when Blue Groper have been protected from spear fishing for nearly 45 years,’ said Department of Primary Industries (DPI) director of fisheries compliance Glenn Tritton.
‘The Blue Groper which has been protected from spear fishing since 1969 and commercial fishing since 1980 in NSW,’ he added.
‘It is protected from spear fishing because it is so tame and inquisitive, so it is highly vulnerable to this method of fishing.’
The incident took place in April last year at Chaos Reef offshore of Evans Head.
When approached by fisheries officers the 59-year-old man from Noosaville Queensland was found in possession of six Blue Groper.
The man, who held an Australian spear fishing record in 1972, appeared in Maclean Local Court last week.
‘The man pleaded guilty to two charges including taking Blue Groper by means other than a rod and line; possessing six Blue Groper when the limit is two; and possessing two Blue Groper over 60 centimetres when only one Blue Groper can exceed this size,’ Mr Tritton said.
‘Blue Groper can be only fished by using a rod and line or a handline and there is a bag limit of two Blue Groper per day, only one of which can be longer than 60 centimetres.
‘Fishers are also reminded to check the fishing rules which apply across NSW, ignorance is no excuse.’
The Blue Groper, which was made the official state fish emblem of NSW in 1998, grows to a large size and is found near inshore reefs along the NSW coast.
It changes sex from female to male during its life cycle and the largest specimens are predominantly males that are coloured bright blue from which it takes its name.
Anyone witnessing any illegal fishing activity is urged to contact their local fisheries office immediately or to call Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536 or report online at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries.