Illegal fishers face firearms and spearing charges

Shooting fish in a barrell: one of the trout allegedly speared and shot in a shallow Gippsland stream.

THE sound of gunfire led Gippsland Fisheries officers and police to a remote spot on the banks of the Tarago River last week, where three men were allegedly shooting and spearing trout during the closed season.

Senior Fisheries Officer Errol Parmigiani said the targeted operation resulted in three local men likely to face court on numerous fisheries, firearm and game charges.

“Fisheries officers from Traralgon, Cowes and Victoria Police members from Neerim South swooped on the alleged offenders on the Tarago River in West Gippsland, late on Thursday night,” Mr Parmigiani said.

“We will be alleging the men used a spear, which is considered commercial fishing equipment in this situation and a 22 calibre rifle, to illegally take brown trout some of which were in excess of 3kg and 60cm in length.”

Officers heard up to a dozen shots fired along the river before the alleged offenders were intercepted and apprehended. The trout season closed at midnight on the Monday of the Queen’s Birthday weekend.

“The closed season is there to protect trout during the major part of their spawning activity and runs until the first Saturday in September each year,” Mr Parmigiani said.

“It is totally illegal to take trout with a spear or firearm from inland rivers and waterways.

“Other than the two fish found when the three men were intercepted, it is also likely that many more were injured or killed on the night.”

There are heavy penalties for using this type of equipment to take fish. Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity is urged to call the 24 hour reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474). 

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