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Spotlight on illegal fishing

FOUR men who illegally went spearfishing at night in an area closed to spearfishing on the mid north coast have been fined by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries officers.

DPI Supervising Fisheries Officer, Lee Burdett, said the men were apprehended by fisheries officers last month.

“It is alleged that the men were observed spearfishing at 11.30pm with the aid of lights, in Korogo Creek, Hat Head, on February 13,” Ms Burdett said.

“Fisheries officers approached the men as they exited the water, and when questioned, the men, admitted to spearfishing a quantity of fish and an undersize mudcrab in the creek, with the aid of lights.

“Korogo Creek is closed to spearfishing. It is also an offence to spear with the aid of light and to take prohibited size fish.”

The men were issued a range of sanctions including $1200 in Penalty Notices for spearing in waters closed to spearfishing and using a spear gun aided by lights for the purpose of taking fish.

“A quantity of speared fish was seized, including a prohibited size mudcrab. Officers also seized the offenders’ three spear guns and one hand spear,” Ms Burdett said.

“Our State’s aquatic environment is a community owned resource and we all have a responsibility to protect and safeguard this natural asset for present and future generations.

“Fishing regulations are in place to protect and conserve our fish stocks and aquatic habitats to ensure that fishing activities remain sustainable.

“Fisheries regulations apply to spearfishing activity and many coastal creeks and river mouths are closed to spearfishing to protect nursery areas for juvenile fish and larger breeding fish.

“Fishers are reminded that if they wish to spearfish, they must ensure that they are doing so in an area open to spearfishing, pay the recreational fishing fee unless exempt and stick to strict bag and size limits.

“Heavy penalties apply for breaches of this legislation.”

For a list of spearfishing closures and more information visit http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/340588/Recreational-spearfishing.pdf

To report illegal fishing, visit your nearest fisheries office, report online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/compliance/report-illegal-activity or call the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.

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