Blitz targets Vic’s snapper anglers

A BLITZ on the illegal take of snapper from Port Phillip, Western Port and Corner Inlet in Victoria kicked off over the annual Melbourne Cup long weekend and will run through until Easter 2015.

Fisheries Victoria Acting Director Education and Enforcement Ian Parks said Fisheries Officers would be focusing on size and bag limits in addition to checking licences during Operation Raptor.

“Fisheries Officers will be targeting snapper anglers in Port Phillip, Western Port and Corner Inlet day and night this season, so know your snapper catch limits and stick to them,” Mr Parks said.

“Anglers who breach snapper bag and size limits face multiple fines of up to $433 on the spot, or $10,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

“The courts can prohibit offenders from fishing altogether for up to 12 months if found guilty of recreational fishing offences and, for serious offences, this prohibition can be even greater.”

The minimum legal length for snapper is 28cm and the bag limit is 10, of which only three can equal or exceed 40cm. Snapper must be landed whole so Fisheries Officers can measure them.

“Fisheries Officers will be out in marked and unmarked vessels, seizing boats and fishing equipment where snapper bag and size limits have been exceeded,” Mr Parks said.

Operation Raptor is targeting the illegal take of snapper in Port Phillip, Western Port and Corner Inlet, as larger snapper are known to aggregate in these waters during spring to spawn.

“After spawning, snapper feed and then school, making them vulnerable to exploitation at a time when many fishers are taking to the water to make the most of the great opportunities on offer.”

“Whilst most fishers adhere to bag and size limits, we urge all fishers to do the right thing to ensure these fishing opportunities remain for future generations.”

“Stick to the limits, take only what you need and release surplus fish swiftly.”

Mr Parks urged members of the public to report suspect illegal snapper fishing by calling the 13FISH (13 3474) intelligence reporting line.

“Make the call and make a difference – you will remain anonymous and will be helping Fisheries Victoria protect the future sustainability of our fisheries.”

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