Industry & Investment NSW Fisheries Officers last week apprehended a man allegedly caught red handed with an illegal haul of eastern blue groper, the emblem fish of NSW.
The 39-year-old man from the Sydney suburb of Lansvale was apprehended at Wattamolla in the Royal National Park.
“This is an absolutely inexcusable example of illegal fishing, and I commend our fisheries officers for a sterling effort in apprehending this reckless offender,” said NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald.
“Blue groper has been a protected species for many years and can only be caught legally by rod and line or handline.
Macdonald said NSW Fisheries Officers observed the man carrying a large backpack and hessian sack, west along the rocky shore area of Wattamolla.
“A search was carried out and the man was allegedly found to be in possession of 15 eastern blue groper, ranging in size from 35.7cm to 65cm.
“It will be alleged that all the fish were speared, and had wounds consistent with that of a spear.
“This is perhaps one of the most deplorable fisheries crimes I have ever seen and this offender can expect to face the full force of the law,” Macdonald said.
The man faces a range of charges including possession of fish illegally taken, and exceeding the bag limit, which each carry a maximum penalty of $11,000 and three months in jail.
The bag limit for blue groper in NSW is two per person, with only one permitted to be longer than 60cm.
To report illegal fishing, contact your nearest fisheries office, or call the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.