AFMA closes net on fishing cheats

SIX Commonwealth commercial fishermen from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria have received penalties totalling almost $56,000 after being found guilty of various fishing offences.

A further 11 Commonwealth fishers across Australia are facing multiple charges of illegal fishing activity. Three fishermen in South Australia will appear before court in March to face some of these charges for allegedly evading shark quota.

This follows increased compliance activity by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in recent months.

AFMA General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that those doing the wrong thing should be getting the message that they will be caught.

“AFMA takes illegal fishing very seriously and whilst the vast majority of fishers do the right thing, those few who continue to break the law are in our sights and will get caught.”

“Those involved in illegal fishing activities are stealing from the Australian community and putting the sustainability of our fisheries and the livelihoods of others at risk.”

AFMA has been working closely with state fisheries agencies to stamp out illegal fishing activity.

In December 2013, AFMA executed three search warrants in the Port Fairy area on the Victorian West Coast as part of a joint operation with the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

A dozen Commonwealth and State officers worked together to seize evidence against suspected illegal fishing activity from a vessel, private residence and also a motor vehicle.

Fishers found guilty of fishing illegally or selling black-market fish may face jail terms of up to 10 years and fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for a company, in addition to the forfeiture of the value of the catch and boats.

If you suspect illegal fishing or black-market fish supply to be occurring in your area please contact 1800 CRIMFISH (1800 274 634).

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