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AFMA nabs fishing cheats

FOLLOWING investigations by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), over 100 charges have been laid against four fishing operators across two states suspected of cheating fishing quotas.

These charges have been laid against three individual fisherman in South Australia who are alleged to have, over a period of just over two years, taken over $90,000 in school shark, gummy shark and snapper without declaring them.

Charges have also been laid against a fishing operator on the central north coast of New South Wales who also allegedly failed to declare tuna catches. It is expected that all four fishing operators will face court in early November 2013.

AFMA is targeting fishers trying to rort the quota system with sweeps across south eastern Australia and recently raided a number of premises, vessels and motorvehicles on the south coast of New South Wales in September.

AFMA General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas, said that AFMA would continue to put pressure on fishers who do the wrong thing.

“These recent events are the result of six months of investigations by AFMA and highlight our ongoing commitment to identifying and prosecuting fishers who deliberately try to flout the management arrangements for personal gain”.

‘It is very important that commercial fish catches are accurately recorded by fishers to make sure that fishing continues to be sustainable. Those people who try to dodge the rules put fish stocks at risk, undermine the livelihoods of those fishers doing the right thing and can also impact on recreational fishers”, Mr Venslovas said.

Mr Venslovas acknowledged that the majority of fishers do the right thing and warned those thinking of trying to cheat the system to think again.

“Where we detect criminal activity we will investigate and take steps to prosecute them to the full extent of the law”.

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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