The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) seized more than 5,700 illegally harvested abalone in the 2016/2017 financial year.
NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said five men have been given prison sentences and fined tens of thousands of dollars in a crackdown on the illicit trade of the seafood delicacy.
“Earlier this year, a 59-year-old Sydney restaurateur was convicted in Bankstown Local Court of trafficking in an indictable species of fish and possessing prohibited size abalone. The joint operation, code named ‘Symmetry’, between DPI Fisheries and NSW Police saw 3,300 abalone seized,” Mr Tully said.
“The man was incarcerated and sentenced to two years imprisonment with AU$32,000 in fines and penalties. The man appealed the sentence which was converted to a two-year intensive corrections order. The case of a second man involved in the matter is still before the court.
“In November last year another Sydney man was convicted for trafficking in abalone and sentenced to 12 months suspended gaol sentence after being found with 575 abalone of which 166 were a prohibited size. He was convicted and received over $8,000 in fines and penalties and a good behaviour bond for 3 years. The man was also ordered to forfeit his vehicle.”
Two men from the south coast recently appeared in court as a result of another operation with police.
“The pair pleaded not guilty to charges including trafficking, shucking and possessing prohibited size fish, after being found in joint possession of 266 abalone,” Mr Tully said
“The men faced Bega Local Court in September and October and were convicted of trafficking, possessing prohibited size fish and shucking abalone. Both were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment (suspended) and each received $4,000 in fines.”
Another man faced Batemans Bay Local Court in September charged with possessing 132 abalone, of which 14 were a prohibited size. The man defended the charges but was convicted and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment (suspended) and fined $5,000.
An order was also made prohibiting the man from: diving; possessing dive gear on or adjacent to waters; possessing abalone; and boarding a vessel less than 10 metres in length for a period of three years.
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