Fisheries authorities are cracking down on illegal fishing along the NSW coast with a series of covert and overt operations that have resulted in a number of alleged thieves being apprehended.
The Statewide Operation and Investigations Unit within the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is working with local fisheries officers using a range of investigative techniques, including electronic surveillance.
‘We have had some great results across NSW on the North Coast, Illawarra, Hunter and South Coast,’ NSW DPI Fisheries Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said.
‘The vast majority of fishers do the right thing but unfortunately 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 said.
The operations include the apprehension of a man from Iluka who was found allegedly trying to rort the rules around commercial crab trapping.
The man 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 another north coast investigation into 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.
Successful operations have also been conducted in Illawarra, the Hunter and Merimbula.
Anyone suspecting illegal fishing activity should report it to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via FishSmart NSW app (available from the App Store or Google Play). People can also report online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/