Nasty nip delivered to illegal crabbers

Some of the illegal crab nets seized by NSW DPI offivers over the last six months

A COMPLIANCE operation conducted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), from December 2016 to May 2017, has resulted in the seizure of over 1000 illegal crab traps and nets as well as 920 crabs.

DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said the operation codenamed ‘Portunus’ involved hundreds of patrols aimed at targeting illegal crabbing to apprehend offenders creating deterrence, coupled with an educational campaign designed to increase knowledge of crab fishing rules.

“Fisheries Officers detected 440 recreational crabbing offences and 26 commercial crabbing offences,” Mr Tully said.

“Fisheries Officers used high-tech equipment including long-range surveillance cameras and drones to locate illegal traps and illegal fishers and will continue to use innovative methods to improve compliance.

“In one operation on the far north coast, NSW Police assisted Fisheries Officers in detecting a commercial fisher ‘rolling’ or ‘looting’ other commercial fishers’ traps.

“We recognise the support of the industry and coastal communities for this operation. The Fishers Watch phone line received approximately 240 reports of suspected illegal crabbing activities which assisted Fisheries Officers in apprehending numerous offenders.”

Most of the offenders have been issued penalty notices of up to $500 each while some will be issued court attendance notices and face fines of up to $22,000 or 6 months imprisonment, or both, for the first offence. These penalties double for second or subsequent offences.

A total of 10 offences were detected in the retail sector, mostly in the greater Sydney and Central Coast areas.

“Any seafood that is not handled, stored and prepared in the proper manner may pose serious health risks to consumers, therefore it is vitally important that people buy their fish and crabs from legitimate sources,” Mr Tully said.

“Although Operation Portunus has officially ended, DPI will continue to target the illegal capture and unlawful sale of the valuable crustaceans.”

All fishers are reminded that if they are going crabbing to check the rules in the area by visiting the local fisheries office or

Report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling the Fishers Watch phone line 1800 043 536 or report online at


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