Fishers across NSW have heeded the rules during the Easter holiday period and fished within the regulations in most cases.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries officers targeted known fishing spots during the last two weeks under a state-wide crackdown on prohibited-size fish being taken.
DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said fishers were made aware ahead of the operation that fisheries officers would be focusing on increasing people’s awareness of fishing rules and regulations.
“So far, fisheries officers have been pleased to see a high level of voluntary compliance,” Mr Tully said.
“However, to date we have more than 40 offences reported, including 34 written cautions and eight penalty notices being issued. 33 information reports were also received relating to the alleged taking of prohibited size fish – most of these were reported between Newcastle and Kiola on the south coast.”
Officers seized 267 prohibited size fish including 137 sand whiting, 51 abalone, 18 mud crabs, 16 yellowfin bream, 14 turban snails and 10 snapper.
As the Operation continues across the state Mr Tully says he hopes there will be an increase in public knowledge and understanding of fisheries compliance and any illegal fishers and retailers will face the full range of penalties.
One of the targeted patrols conducted in the Batemans Bay and Durras area during the Easter long weekend was specifically aimed at illegal intertidal collecting activities.
“Fisheries officers detected 21 offenders and 38 offences including the possession of prohibited size fish and shellfish. More than 800 intertidal invertebrates including abalone, eastern rock lobsters and turban snails were confiscated,” Mr Tully said.
Another seizure included two prohibited size Murray Cod from a camp on the Murray River downstream of Moama.
“This inspection occurred after a NSW Fishers Watch report was made of campers using a crossline at the location, and Fisheries officers ended up seizing 25 rigged lines from this report. This shows that protecting our sustainable fish stocks and aquatic habitats is everyone’s responsibility and making a report can lead to prosecution,” Mr Tully said.
Penalties for prohibited size fish offences can range from $500 to $22,000 in on-the spot fines or six months in prison, or both, for a first offence.
Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity is urged to contact their local DPI fisheries office, call the Fisher Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or report illegal fishing activities online.
For more information or to get our free FishSmart app visit the DPI website.
Photo captions: Prohibited size Murray Cod and set lines seized from the Murray River near Gunbower State Forest.(Please credit NSW DPI)