The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says a recent surveillance operation on the state’s south coast has led to the apprehension of four offenders found in possession of more than thirty times the normal bag limit of Blacklip Abalone.
The DPI Fisheries operation, with the assistance of NSW Police, was conducted between Bawley Point and Kioloa on the May 8.
DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said the four males allegedly took the haul of abalone near Shell Point, near Ulladulla.
“The offenders were in possession of 261 abalone – more than thirty times the normal bag limit of two abalone per person, per day,” Mr Tully said.
Three of the alleged offenders are juveniles, and all may face the Children’s Court once fisheries officers finalise their investigation and consider charges.
Officers were forced to retain the 261 abalone as evidence after the alleged offenders had shucked the abalone, killing them instantly. The men’s diving gear was also seized.
“The adult man was also recently apprehended on March 15 where he was allegedly in possession of 365 abalone (all shucked but one) with three others. A prosecution brief is being prepared for that matter,” Mr Tully said.
“Abalone is not only listed as a priority species but an indictable species. The maximum penalty for a person who traffics in an indictable species of fish is 10 years imprisonment,” Mr Tully said.
“There are also maximum penalties of $44,000 for possession of fish in circumstances of aggravation and penalties of $5,500 per person for illegally shucking abalone.”
New rules have applied for the NSW commercial abalone fishery since December 2017. Abalone are commercially harvested from rocky reefs by divers, mostly on the South Coast of NSW.
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