Fisheries charges abalone and lobster offenders on NSW South Coast

Image: NSW DPI

A SYDNEY man illegally trafficking 575 abalone and a NSW commercial lobster fisher who exceeded his quota are facing prosecution after being caught in separate alleged incidents on the NSW South Coast.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group arrested the Sydney man, 59, at Ulladulla on the evening of the 17th August.

The arrest was part of a lengthy investigation, named Operation Strobe, into the illicit trade in abalone from the NSW South Coast to Sydney receivers.

DPI Acting Senior Fisheries Investigator Matt Cartwright said the 575 abalone were seized as well as the alleged offender’s vehicle and other documentation related to illegal fishing.

“It is also alleged that 166 of the abalone were of a prohibited size,” he said.

“Investigations are continuing and other persons involved in the alleged illegal abalone network may also be charged.”

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Image: NSW DPI

In a separate incident on Sunday 31 July this year, a NSW commercial lobster fisher was apprehended for a range of offences at Kiama.

During a targeted inspection of the commercial fisher by DPI Fisheries, numerous alleged offences were detected, including contravening quota, re-using tags and supplying false and misleading information.

Mr Cartwright said a quantity of live eastern rock lobsters, lobster tags and commercial logbooks were seized from the commercial fisher.

“All of the seized lobsters were returned to the water alive,” he said.

“As a result of the number of offences detected, it is anticipated that the fisher will be prosecuted.”

The commercial lobster fishery is a high-value, share-managed fishery that involves an annual quota system. Fishers need to tag all eastern rock lobsters they take and complete a logbook outlining the details of their catch.

There are strict regulations in place to ensure these obligations are met by commercial fishers in order to effectively manage the sustainability of this resource.

Commercial lobster fishers found guilty of lobster related offences can also face the possibility of having their shares in the fishery forfeited.

Both Abalone and Lobster are listed as a priority and indictable species under the Fisheries Management Act. A range of tough penalties apply to persons found committing offences involving these species.

Persons convicted of trafficking Abalone or Lobster can receive a maximum of 10 years as well as a monetary penalty up to 10 times the market value of the fish.

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