The iconic Murray cod will now have increased protection from organised crime thanks to the Victorian Government.
The Minister Responsible for Fisheries Joe Helper announced that Australia’s largest native freshwater fish has been declared a priority species under the Fisheries Act.
“The Brumby Government is taking action to ensure future generations are able to enjoy and catch these wonderful fish for many years to come,” Helper said.
“This means that those who possess or traffic commercial quantities of Murray cod can be charged and face penalties of up to 10 years jail.”
Helper said restocking, monitoring and the efforts of Victoria’s recreational fishers continue over the past decade to be invaluable to the recovery of the fish.Almost 2.5 million Murray cod fingerlings have been released into Victorian inland waterways.
“But there is now growing evidence that illegal trade is rising and trafficking is becoming more lucrative to organised criminals, threatening to derail this recovery effort.
“For this reason, the Brumby Labor Government has introduced these new laws to give Murray cod the same priority protection as other valuable species, such as abalone and rock lobster.”
Under the new rules a commercial quantity of Murray cod is defined as possessing three times the daily bag limit, or having 30 kilograms of Murray cod in any form other than a whole fish.
Currently, the legal recreational take of Murray cod in Victoria is a daily bag/possession limit of two fish, which must be between 60 centimetres and 100 centimetres in length.
Murray cod can fetch $50 a kilogram – a haul of six fish, with an average weight of 10 kilograms each, would fetch around $3000 on black markets.
Anyone seeing or uspecting Illegal fishing activity should report it on the 24-hour reporting line 13-FISH (13 3474).