Illegal fishing nipped in the bud

NSW Fisheries officers bust multiple offenders in three-month sting

Illegal fishing nipped in the bud
Illegal fishing nipped in the bud

Industry & Investment NSW (I&I NSW) fisheries have apprehended a number of illegal fishers in Sydney, seizing more than 16,000 saltwater nippers allegedly bound for the black market, I&I NSW fisheries compliance manager, Glenn Tritton, said yesterday.

"Fisheries Officers from I&I NSW Statewide Operations and Investigations Group and Sydney took part in Operation Sandbar, targeting the Maianbar area in Port Hacking," Tritton said.

"Both covert and overt surveillance was conducted during the day and night, with 27 illegal fishers apprehended during the 12-week long operation. Unbelievably, some of these illegal fishers were caught multiple times during this period," he said.

"A total of 16,134 saltwater nippers were seized, and all were returned to the water alive.

"We believe that most of the saltwater nippers seized by Fisheries Officers were destined to be illegitimately sold to bait and tackle stores."

A number of the illegal fishers will face court on a range of charges including possession of more than the daily limit of fish, while penalty notices totalling more than $7000 have also been issued. It will be alleged that three of the offenders were apprehended at least twice in a number of separate incidents.

A 29-year old man from Lurnea had a total of 4292 nippers seized from him on three different occasions. On the second occasion, the man allegedly obstructed Fisheries Officers three times to avoid apprehension. His vehicle was also seized. On the third occasion, Fisheries Officers detected him allegedly selling 2614 saltwater nippers to a bait and tackle store located in Sydney’s south. The owners of a bait and tackle store will also face charges relating to this alleged illegal sale of saltwater nippers.

Other alleged multiple offenders included a 33-year old man from Georges Hall, who had 4525 saltwater nippers seized from him on two different occasions, and a 33-year old man from Guildford, who had a total of 3120 saltwater nippers seized from him, also on two different occasions.

A number of offenders also failed to pay the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee.

The recreational possession limit for saltwater nippers in NSW is 100 per person.

"The fisheries resource is there for everyone to share, and the NSW Government will not tolerate illegal fishing by any means," Tritton said.

"These rogue traders are causing undue pressure on the stocks of saltwater nippers and effectively threatening stocks of saltwater nippers for future generations.

"They are also providing unwelcome competition to legitimate commercial fishers who not only provide a service to recreational anglers by supplying saltwater nippers to bait and tackle stores, but also pay annually for the right to take the saltwater nippers.

"Fisheries Officers will continue to target persons involved in the illegitimate trade in black market fish including saltwater nippers and other bait species."

Anyone with information on illegal fishing activity is encouraged to contact their local Fisheries Office or call the Fisher’s Watch line on 1800 043 536.

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