DNA exposes illegal fishing

DNA testing has been used to expose false information provided to fisheries officers in NSW.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Supervising Fisheries Officer, Ian Stockton, said the use of DNA testing was recently undertaken to confirm fisheries officers’ suspicions when 11 fillets claimed to be mullet for use as bait were found on a vessel off Evans Head.

“These fillets were in addition to nine whole teraglin found on the vessel,” Mr Stockton said.

“Testing proved conclusively that the fillets were also teraglin and a fisher subsequently admitted to exceeding the possession for teraglin and filleting the teraglin at sea.

“The fisher was issued with multiple penalty notices totalling $800.

“The possession limit of teraglin is five per person and it is an offence to fillet fish with a size limit in or adjacent to the water unless the fish is for immediate consumption or immediately used as bait.”

It is alleged that in this instance the offender had concocted a cover story to legitimise bringing home more teraglin than their daily limit.

“This is a great example of fisheries officers’ knowledge and experience being backed up by modern day science and technology,” he said.

“People should be aware that fisheries officers have a range of modern technologies at their disposal to assist their investigations into illegal fishing.

“This case demonstrates that fisheries officers will go to great lengths to enforce the rules in place to protect the marine resource of NSW.

“Fisheries officers will continue to patrol our waters and adjacent lands to ensure fishers are doing the right thing and bring those flouting the law to justice.”

Information on fishing rules and regulations can be found the 2013 Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing Guides available online at, DPI offices and where NSW recreational fishing licences are sold.

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