Groper killer caught by fisheries officers on South Coast

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has fined a man for spearing four Blue Groper, which is the official fish of NSW, at Twofold Bay at Eden. 

The 49-year-old man was caught as a result of a routine fisheries inspection by NSW DPI Fisheries Officers. 

NSW DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Glenn Tritton, said there are strict rules for catching Blue Groper in NSW. 

“It is very disappointing to see the illegal taking of our State emblem, especially when it has been protected from spear fishing for more than 40 years,” Mr Tritton said. 

“Anyone who undertakes any sort of fishing on our waterways needs to know the rules, ignorance is no excuse. 

“NSW DPI will not tolerate the spearing of Blue Groper and penalties can range up to a maximum of $11,000.”  

Mr Tritton said the 49-year-old man was found snorkelling, carrying a speargun, adjacent to a small inflatable boat on the southern side of Twofold Bay. 

“Fisheries Officers approached the man and the small vessel and allegedly observed four Blue Groper in the boat that had wounds consistent with those made by a spear,” he said. 

“When interviewed, the man admitted to spearing the four Blue Groper.” 

The man was formally interviewed and was issued a $500 penalty notice on the day. 

Fishing Rules for Groper:  

  • A recreational fishing licence must be held for all methods of fishing in NSW. 
  • In NSW Groper can be only taken by using a rod and line or a handline. 
  • Groper cannot be speared and have been protected from spear fishing since 1969. 
  • Groper cannot be taken and/or sold by any method of commercial fishing.  
  • There is a bag limit of 2 Groper per day. 
  • There is a size limit of 30 cm (only 1 of which can be longer than 60 cm). 
  • People must also comply with any additional restrictions which apply in marine parks and aquatic reserves. 

The Blue Groper became the official fish of NSW following the death of “Bluey” at Clovelly in 2002, who was killed by an unknown spear fishermen. 

It is protected from spear fishing because it is so tame and inquisitive, so it is highly vulnerable to this method of fishing.

The Blue Groper presents in several different colours including blue, green, brown and red and changes sex from female to male during its life cycle. 

The largest specimens are males that are coloured the bright blue from which it takes its name. 

Anyone witnessing illegal spearing of Groper is urged to contact their local fisheries office immediately or to call Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536.