Operation Trident takes aim at illegal seafood collection this holiday season

20 Dec 2023

With the 2023 festive season upon us, authorities are clamping down on illegal seafood sales in a joint operation between NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), the NSW Food Authority and NSW Police.

NSW DPI Deputy Director General Fisheries Sean Sloan said, Fisheries Officers will be cracking down specifically on the sale of illegal seafood with the aim of keeping consumers safe this Christmas, with ‘Operation Trident’.

“Now in its 16th consecutive year, Operation Trident has been put in place once again to crack down on the illegal harvesting of Seafood across NSW,” Mr Sloan said.

"The Christmas and New Year holiday period is always the peak season for seafood and oyster consumption, which also leads to a rise in illegal seafood trading.

“We are working with NSW Police and the NSW Food Authority to ensure that the seafood that lands on NSW plates is safe, lawfully obtained and sustainably harvested.

“Our operation includes both covert and overt patrols and inspections across NSW and is designed to deter oyster theft and protect consumers against potentially unsafe black-market produce.

“Maximum fines of up to $275,000 and imprisonment apply, and offences are created in the black-market trade by both sellers and buyers.”

NSW Food Authority CEO Dr Lisa Szabo said NSW is known for producing a diverse range of delicious, fresh, and healthy seafood that is enjoyed by customers all over the world, and we want to keep it that way.

“The black-market oyster trade poses a health risk to consumers, and we strongly urge the public not to consume Seafood products if they do not know where it has come from,” Dr Szabo said.

“Stolen oysters might not come from an area covered by the NSW Shellfish Program, so the NSW Food Authority recommends people only buy oysters from reputable retailers as these oysters have been monitored for their safety by industry professionals.”

State Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Whiteside from the Rural Crime Prevention Team, NSW Police Force said in recent weeks we have seen an increase in Oyster theft heading into the busy holiday period.

“We encourage people to report these thefts so we can have timely investigations and put a stop to this activity,” Mr Whiteside said.

“Our operation includes covert and overt operations across NSW by Rural Crime Investigators and are designed to detect and deter oyster theft and protect consumers against potentially unsafe black-market produce.”

The public are urged to report illegal or suspected illegal fishing activities to the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536 or via the online report form here - https://fal.cn/3gJWh and Anyone with information on marine-related crimes should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: www.police.nsw.gov.au.

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