NEWS - Abalone black market crackdown
NSW Fisheries pounce on poachers
Hundreds of prohibited-size abalone have been seized on the NSW South Coast after Industry and Investment NSW Fisheries Officers intercepted an illegal haul allegedly bound for a black market buyer, NSW Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald said last Saturday.
"I&I NSW Fisheries Officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigation Group conducted a compliance operation targeting an alleged illegal abalone syndicate on the NSW South Coast," Macdonald said.
"Four men, the youngest aged 17, were intercepted at Bittangabee Bay, south of Eden, on August 10, where it will be alleged they were found to be in joint possession of 304 abalone," he said.
According to the Minister, 289 of the blacklip abalone were of a prohibited size and some were found to be as small as eight centimetres. I&I NSW Fisheries Officers seized the abalone, as well as four sets of diving equipment.
"The men, a 23-year-old from Coila, a 20-year-old from Moruya and two 17-year-olds from Moruya and Tuross Heads will face charges for a range of offences including: exceed the possession limit of abalone; possess prohibited size abalone; possess shucked abalone adjacent to waters; failure to pay the recreational fishing fee; and, take fish for sale when unauthorised to do so," said Macdonald.
"Now, the men each face the possibility of more than $139,000 in fines and a lengthy jail term," he added.
The possession limit in waters open to the taking of abalone is two per person and the minimum prescribed legal length for abalone in NSW is 11.7cm.
In another matter, a woman has received a $9500 fine in Parramatta Local Court for the possession of 982 abalone, after being apprehended during an operation targeting illegal abalone receivers in the Sydney area in 2007.
The 39-year-old from Baulkham Hills was charged with possessing more than the possession limit for abalone, after a search warrant was executed on her home, with officers locating a large quantity of abalone in freezers.
The shucked abalone, freezers, scales and documentation were seized from the home.
"This result sends a strong message to abalone offenders, that the theft of this precious resource from the State’s waterways won’t be tolerated," Macdonald said.
Rewards are offered for information leading to the conviction of illegal abalone buyers and divers.
Information can be provided direct to the abalone compliance group, phone 6499 8000.
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