FISHERIES Victoria has congratulated the majority of south-west anglers and people who visited the region on their general positive fishing actions and behaviour so far in the southern bluefin tuna (SBT) season.
Fisheries Officer Cameron McCallum said during June and July nine Fisheries officers from across Victoria conducted over 350 boat and land-based inspections at Portland and Port Fairy.
“Officers undertook both covert and overt inspections of recreational fishers, including charter vessels, and aerial surveillance of tuna fishers by a fixed wing aircraft also took place for the first time which proved to be worthwhile,” McCallum said.
Mr McCallum said overall fishers were compliant and good to deal with and only a very small percentage were found offending.
Fisheries Officers detected 12 alleged offenders in total and seized six SBT, these offences included not having a current recreational fishing licence and failing to land SBT in carcass form.
A 43-year-old male charter vessel operator is expected to be charged on summons after he was allegedly detected with a commercial quantity (14 whole) of SBT.
The man admitted to officers that four of the fish belonged to him, this was despite Fisheries Officers previously speaking to him at Portland regarding possession limits for SBT.
A Fisheries Victoria spokesperson said that it has strong powers in relation to seizure in Victoria including seizure of vessels and vehicles and these seizures occur regularly.
“In this case a ‘retention notice’ was placed on the charter operators vessel which allows him to continue using it as it is his livelihood, but with strict conditions attached. It is possible that he still may lose his vessel when it comes to court,” the spokesperson said.
Mr McCallum said SBT are a priority species in Victoria and have strict bag and possession limits.
“There is a daily bag limit of two fish per person but also a statewide possession limit of two whole Southern Bluefin tuna,” he said.
If you are caught in possession of three or more SBT in whole form or 160kg of fillets anywhere in Victoria it is classed as a commercial quantity and serious penalties may apply.
Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity is urged to call the 24 hour reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474).