DPIRD fisheries officers disrupt black market seafood syndicate

Abalone (Photo: wa.gov.au)

Authorities have swooped on alleged black market dealing and trafficking of abalone.

In a joint operation over the weekend, Fisheries and Marine Officers from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), with the assistance of WA Police and Australian Border Force, executed two search warrants at properties in Perth’s southern suburbs.

Operation DEEPWOLF targeted fishing syndicates involved in the illegal trade of seafood in the South West and Perth metropolitan areas.

During searches, DPIRD officers seized several items including a vehicle believed to have been used to transport large quantities of black-market abalone.

A number of people believed to be involved in the alleged illegal trade of seafood, including a 61-year-old woman from Canning Vale, have been interviewed. Investigations are continuing.

The DPIRD has reiterated that it is illegal to sell, purchase or barter with recreationally caught fish in Western Australia. Individuals involved in trafficking priority fish, like abalone and rock lobster, could face four year’s imprisonment or fines up to $400,000 as well as court orders, licence suspensions and vehicle or vessel forfeitures.

Any black-market trade in abalone not only undermines the legitimate livelihoods of commercial fishers but can put consumers at risk and impact on abalone sustainability, the DPIRD added.

Commercial abalone fishing in WA is undertaken by licensed commercial abalone divers operating a limited number of managed fishery licences authorised to take specific amounts of abalone (or quota) in specific zones.


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