Heavy fine for prawn fisher

The successful prosecution of a man apprehended setting two illegal prawn nets in the Hunter River near Oakhampton should serve as a warning to those contemplating breaking fishing regulations across the State.

The 31-year-old recreational fisher pleaded guilty in Maitland Court to three charges including: take fish contrary to fishing closure and two charges of unlawful use of net and was fined a total of $7,450 by a Magistrate on 19 December 2007.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Manager Fisheries Compliance Glenn Tritton said the substantial penalties illustrated the seriousness that courts in the Hunter place upon illegal fishing offences.

“The man was apprehended in a fishing closure by Fisheries Officers on 11 November 2005, approximately 35 river kilometres upstream of Raymond Terrace,” Mr Tritton said.  

“The two men were observed by Fisheries Officers arriving by vehicle through a locked gate on a private property adjacent to the Upper Hunter River and proceeded to stake 2 prawn nets into the main flow of the river” he said.  

A range of restrictions apply to recreational prawn fishing in the Hunter including a ban on hand hauled prawn nets and push or scissor nets in the entire Hunter River and its tributaries to the Williams River junction from 1 June to 30 September.  

Hand-hauled prawn nets can not be staked or set, or joined or placed together with any other net and must be continuously and manually propelled. The hand-hauled prawn net must not exceed 6 metres with a mesh throughout not less than 30mm or more than 36mm. The net must be registered by DPI at a cost of $24.  

DPI officers regularly conduct covert and overt operations both in estuarine and ocean waters along the NSW coastline using both marine craft and motor vehicles. Anyone witnessing illegal fishing activities should report them immediately to local DPI Fisheries Officers or the Fisher’s Watch Line on 1800 043 536.