Fisheries officers battle spate of Illegal fishing

FISHERIES officers in the south-west of NSW are concerned about high levels of illegal fishing in the region.

Department of Primary Industries Director of Fisheries Compliance, Glenn Tritton, said fisheries officers have seized a large amount of unattended illegal fishing gear in the Murrumbidgee River during the past few months.

“With the Murray Crayfish season almost over, fishers are reporting low numbers of Murray Crayfish in the Murrumbidgee River,” Mr Tritton said.

“Fisheries officers have seen an increased use of illegal fishing gear targeting Murray Crayfish over the past two months leading to a large number of seizures.

“South West Slopes fisheries officers based at Tumut have conducted a number of dedicated patrols checking Murray crayfish activity in the Murrumbidgee River between Hume Highway road bridge at Gundagai, downstream to the Currawarna Road Bridge near Collingullie.

“They have observed approximately 175 set hoop nets but have only sighted 28 Murray Crayfish of legal size.”

The minimum size for Murray Crayfish is 10cm with a maximum size of 12cm (carapace or head length) measured from the rear of the eye socket to the centre rear of the carapace plus a daily bag limit of 2 and a total possession limit of 4 per fisher.

It is an offence to remove eggs from Murray Crayfish or possess Murray crayfish which have had eggs removed. Fishers are advised to measure their catch carefully and return any prohibited sized or berried females to the water immediately.

The Murray Crayfish season is open during the months of June, July and August.

“Fisheries officers have recently seized five fish traps, one crab trap and a 25 metre gill net,” Mr Tritton said.

“Gill nets are illegal and indiscriminate in what they catch. They are a threat to sustainable fish populations, particularly threatened species and immature fish. Officers also seized an abandoned hoop net, which was found to be ‘ghost fishing’ with four Murray Crayfish entangled in the mesh.

“One was berried and some of the eggs had started to be infected with fungus – these animals would have died if not found and released.

“Possessing illegally taken fish or using an unlawful net or trap can result in hefty fines in NSW of up to $22,000 or imprisonment for 6 months or both or alternatively a $500 penalty notice for either offence.

“Illegal nets and traps pose a serious threat to other air breathing animals that occur in and around our freshwater river systems such as platypus, tortoise, turtles, water rats and water birds.

“Fisheries officers will continue to patrol the river for the remainder of the season and beyond, to help stop illegal fishers in their tracks.”

Report illegal or suspicious fishing activity in this region to the Fisheries office at Tumut on 0408 484299, or the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536 or online at:

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