Abusing fisheries officers and concealing illegal catch not tolerated

2 Sep 2019

Yellowtail Kingfish - please attribute to NSW DPI

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSWDPI) Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said that the Department will not hesitate to take people who threaten or abuse fisheries officers to court.

Mr Tully said the warning follows a number of convictions of fishers who have been unhappy after being caught doing the wrong thing.

“A man was recently fined $950 after being convicted in Wentworth Court for illegally fishing and abusing a fisheries officer at Frenchmans Creek, Wentworth,” Mr Tully said.

“In another instance, a Tweed Heads seafood shop manager who verbally abused a fisheries officer at the premises was convicted at Tweed Heads Local Court earlier this month for abusing the officer and failing to provide information. The woman was fined and ordered to pay the department’s professional costs totalling $7,080.

“Trying to conceal illegal catch is pointless as fisheries officers have wide-ranging powers of search and seizure and they are very skilled at finding illegal catch.”

In other court results, on the NSW south coast a commercial abalone diver was convicted and fined $4,000 at Bega Local Court this month for illegally possessing 10 Eastern Rock Lobsters and contravening his commercial fishing endorsement.

“Fisheries officers from the Statewide Operations & Investigations Group conducted a snap inspection of the man’s boat at Tathra when they found the lobsters concealed in the bow,” Mr Tully said.

“In another matter, a Sydney man was found in possession of 11 prohibited size Yellowtail Kingfish in an esky on the shoreline of Botany Bay. He was charged with exceeding the bag limit and possessing prohibited size fish. The man was convicted of both offences and fined $4,400 in Sutherland Local Court recently and ordered to pay the department’s professional costs of $1,510.”

Another man was convicted in Manly Local Court this month when fisheries officers found 25 prohibited sized Yellowtail Kingfish in waters offshore from Sydney Heads on Christmas Eve 2018.

“The Guildford man initially claimed he had only one Yellowtail Kingfish on board, which he presented for inspection, however a search of the boat resulted in 25 prohibited size Yellowtail Kingfish weighing 41 kilograms, and concealed under a false panel,” Mr Tully said.

“The man then made full admissions to taking the fish and purposely concealing them to avoid detection. It was noted the man’s boat had a DPI Fisheries bag and size limit sticker on its gunwhale so it’s very disappointing these rules were ignored.

“The court was very stern about the man’s Christmas caper convicting and fining him $2,500 for possession of prohibited size fish. He was also convicted for exceeding the bag limit and given a Community Service Order requiring him to enter in a period of good behaviour for 12 months.

“The Court prohibited the man from engaging in all fishing activities for six months. If the man is found fishing in those 6 months a term of imprisonment would likely apply. The man was also required to pay the department’s professional cost of $1,210.

“The community is increasingly rejecting illegal fishing, and if anyone suspects illegal activity in NSW, they should report it to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the online Report Illegal Activity Form.”

Media contact: (02) 6391 3686