Fisheries compliance enforcement

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2019-20)

  • Around 51,700 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance).
  • Around 4400 written warnings were issued.
  • Around 2820 penalty notices were issued.
  • 160 offences were successfully prosecuted, including:
    • 135 court imposed fines.
    • 3 community correction orders.
    • 2 bonds (e.g. good behaviour).

Seizures due to non-compliance (2019-20)

Over 64,800 fish and invertebrates seized including:

  • 24,543 Cockles
  • 4,631 Abalone
  • 2,944 Oysters
  • 2,905 Turban Snails
  • 1,363 Saltwater Nippers
  • 1,273 Whelks
  • 920 Sea Urchins
  • 700 Periwinkles
  • 482 Pipis
  • 455 Yellowfin bream
  • 454 Snapper
  • 387 Crabs (other)
  • 349 Mud crab
  • 320 Tailor
  • 311 Eastern rock lobster
  • 249 Tiger Flathead
  • 227 Mullet
  • 214 Sand whiting
  • 189 Blue swimmer crabs
  • 179 Mussels
  • 72 Cartrut Shell
  • 71 Rock Blackfish

Over 2,500 items of fishing gear/equipment including:

  • 1335 crab traps
  • 263 hoop or lift nets
  • 217 fishing lines
  • 85 yabby traps
  • 42 meshing nets
  • 41 spears
  • 35 cast nets
  • 29 lobster traps
  • 12 sets of dive gear
  • 2 trailer boats

Most common offences (2019-20)

#

Program

Count

%

1.

Section 34J(1) Recreational fisher fails to pay fishing fee FMA1994

1901

24.39%

2.

Section 16(1) Possess prohibited size fish - first offence FMA1994

1232

15.81%

3.

Section 18(2) Possess more than possession limit - first offence FMA1994

638

8.18%

4.

Section 34J(2) Fail to have official receipt in immediate possession FMA1994

615

7.89%

5.

Section 20A(3)(b) Take fish declared waters - recreational fishing - first offence FMA1994

328

4.21%

6.

Section 41 Harm or attempt to harm any animal in sanctuary zone MEMA2014

255

3.27%

7.

Section 24(1) Unlawfully use net or trap for taking fish - first offence FMA1994

148

1.90%

8.

Section 62(1) Contravene marine park or aquatic reserve notification MEMA2014

131

1.68%

9.

Section 25(1)(a) Possess prohibited fishing gear - first offence FMA1994

119

1.53%

10.

Clause 59(1) Place etc set net/trap not identified in accordance with Regulations FM(G)R2019

113

1.45%

 

Subtotal of top 10 offences

5,480

70.30%

 

All other offences

2,315

29.70%

 

Total of all offences

7,795

100%

FMA1994 is the Fisheries Management Act 1994

FM(G)R2019 is the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2019

MEMA2014 is the Marine Estate Management Act 2014

Compliance Operations: Coastal (2019-20)

Coastal operations conducted during 2019-20:

  • DPI Xray 19 (July to April 2020) targeting collection of invertebrates in the Coffs Harbour/Woolgoolga area by workers in local horticultural industries
  • DPI Alpha Charlie 19 (July 2019) targeting illegal recreational fishing on the Far North Coast
  • Operation Stingray (September 2019 to April 2020) targeting illegal shellfish collection at Lake Illawarra
  • DPI Alpha Mike 19 (October 2019 to July 2020) targeting illegal recreational fishing on the Far South Coast
  • Operation Turbo Reef VII (January 2020) targeting illegal collection of shellfish in the Sydney region on Australia Day long weekend
  • DPI Charlie 20 (March to April 2030) targeting illegal commercial mud crabbing on the Far North Coast
  • DPI Echo 20 (February to March 2020) targeting illegal commercial mud crabbing on the North Coast
  • DPI Juliet 20 (April 2020) targeting illegal fishing in the Port Stephens area during the Easter period and following school holidays
  • DPI Kilo 20 (April 2020 to December 2020) targeting illegal fishing within the critical habitat Grey Nurse shark areas of Fish Rock and Green Island near South West Rocks
  • DPI Whiskey 20 (June 2020 to December 2020) targeting unlawful fishing for Eastern Rock Lobster in the Illawarra region

Compliance Operations: Inland (2019-20)

Inland operations conducted during 2019-20:

  • DPI Zulu 19 (August to October 2019) targeting illegal take of Eastern Freshwater Cod in the Far North Coast Zone
  • DPI Zulu 19 (September to October 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to South West Slopes region prior to and on opening of general trout streams during Labour Day long weekend
  • DPI Alpha Foxtrot 19 (October 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Riverina area during Labour Day long weekend
  • DPI Alpha Lima 19 (November 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Murray River during 4 day Melbourne Cup Long Weekend
  • DPI Alpha Golf 19 (November 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Snowy Mountains rivers and impoundments during 2019 Snowy Mountains Trout Festival.
  • DPI Alpha November 19 (November – December 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to lower Murray River prior to and during the Murray Cod open season
  • DPI Delta 20 (March 2020) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Riverina rivers during Victorian and ACT long weekends
  • DPI Hotel 20 (May to June 2020) targeting illegal fishing in Snowy Mountains trout spawning streams.
  • DPI Papa 20 (May to September 2020) targeting unlawful commercial fishing in the Paroo and Warrego Rivers in Western NSW
  • DPI Quebec 20 (May to September 2020) targeting high risk offenders on the Macquarie River
  • DPI Sierra 20 (May to June 2020) targeting unlawful fishing for Murray Crayfish in the Riverina area

Significant Court Results (2019-20)

Sutherland Local Court August 2019

  • A man received a total of $4400 in fines and ordered to pay $1510 in professional costs after being apprehended by fisheries officers in possession of 11 Yellowtail Kingfish measuring between 52.0cm – 56.4cm on the shoreline of Botany Bay on 6th December 2018. The legal recreational possession limit for Yellowtail Kingfish in NSW is 5 per person and the legal minimum size is 65.0cm. Yellowtail Kingfish are a highly valuable recreational and commercial species and are listed as a priority species under the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

Manly Local Court August 2019

  • A man was convicted and fined $2500 and ordered to pay $1210 in professional costs after being found by fisheries officers to be in possession of 26 Yellowtail Kingfish, 25 of which were concealed under the floor of the boat and found to be of a prohibited size measuring between 54.8cm – 62.7cm. In total the fish weighed 41kg. The man had been apprehended by fisheries officers in December 2018 about 2.5km offshore from North Head in the Tasman Sea.

Nowra Local Court October 2019

  • A man from Coburg Victoria was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling $7056.44 after a search of a vehicle by fisheries officers at Nowra in July 2018 located 86 Eastern Rock Lobsters 48 of which were of prohibited size. The man who was the driver of the vehicle was charged with being in possession in circumstances of aggravation of more than the possession limit of fish and possess prohibited size fish in circumstances of aggravation.

Port Kembla Local Court November 2019

  • Two persons were convicted and fined a total of $25,000 ordered to pay costs of $2450 for illegally selling cockles. Fisheries officers had earlier launched an investigation after the two persons placed advertisements in social media platforms offering the cockles for sale that had been taken from Lake Illawarra. The two offenders were not known to each other and were involved in separate incidents. Recreational fishers and shellfish collectors cannot sell their catch.

Port Macquarie Local Court November 2019

  • A man from Kinchela on the North Coast was convicted and fined $3000 and ordered to pay costs of $664 for illegally destroying a number of mangroves on the foreshore of the Macleay River in November 2017. Marine vegetation (mangroves, seagrass, saltmarsh, seaweed) is protected under the Fisheries Management Act and a permit is required to harm them. Trimming/removing mangroves for sight lines and safety reasons can be undertaken by Local Councils and other authorities in consultation with DPI Fisheries. Mangrove trimming/removal for views and other aesthetic purposes will generally not be approved.

Newcastle District Local Court December 2019

  • A restaurateur was convicted and fined $15,925 and ordered to pay $1725 in professional costs for possessing 17 untagged Eastern Rock Lobsters. Fisheries officers acting on an anonymous tip off searched the restaurant in February 2018 and located the lobsters that were suspected of coming from an illegitimate source (black market).

Batemans Bay Local Court January 2020

  • A man from Batehaven was fined $5000 ordered to pay costs of $2000 for exceeding possession limits for abalone and rock lobster and threatening a fisheries officer. In late 2018 and early 2019 the man was detected by fisheries officers using multiple dives per day to circumvent his daily take and possession limits for Blacklip Abalone and Eastern Rock Lobster. The Magistrate also issued a prohibition order preventing the man from taking lobsters or abalone for a period of twelve months.

Byron Local Court January 2020

  • A company and an individual were fined and ordered to pay costs totalling $34,500 for a range of offences involving the illegal construction of a wharf, fishing platform, steps and retaining wall in and on the foreshore of Belongil Creek at Byron Bay. The wharf was located in the Cape Byron Marine Park and the other structures were on private land. None of the structures had approval for their construction.

Hornsby Local Court February 2020

  • A commercial fisher from the Central Coast was fined a total of $8,800 and ordered to pay an additional $2,380 in costs after being convicted for a range of offences including possessing fish in contravention of a fishing closure, unlawfully using a net or trap for taking fish for sale and contravening a condition of endorsement on a license. Fisheries officers uncovered the offences over a period of time from 2018 to 2019.

Wollongong Local Court February 2020

  • A man from Sydney was fined $6000 ordered to pay $1750 in costs for possessing prohibited size fish in circumstances of aggravation and possessing more than the possession limit in circumstances of aggravation. In June 2019 fisheries officers apprehended the man at Maloney’s Bay near Shell Cove in possession of 20 abalone all of which measured less than the minimum required size of 11.7 cm.

Wollongong Local Court March 2020

  • Three women received a total of $25,500 in fines and were ordered to pay $3000 in professional costs after being apprehended by fisheries officers with a large quantity of shellfish including Black Nerita and Zebra Periwinkles at MM Beach, Port Kembla on Sunday 30th June 2019.

Wollongong Local Court March 2020

  • Two men received a total of $10,000 and were ordered to pay $2,000 in professional costs after being found in possession of 780 cockles by fisheries officers adjacent to Hooka Point at Lake Illawarra in January 2019. At that time the possession limit for cockles was 50 per person.

Raymond Terrace Local Court April 2020

  • A fisher was convicted and fined $700 ordered to pay $1,400 in costs after appealing a $500 penalty notice they had received earlier after being apprehended by fisheries officers for fishing within the Fly Point Corrie Island Sanctuary Zone of the Port Stephens Great Lake Marine Park on 8th January 2019.

Ballina Local Court May 2020

  • Two men received a total of $5100 in fines after being apprehended at a popular inshore fishing reef adjacent to Broadwater Beach, NSW at 2am on Wednesday the 12th of November 2018. The two men were found in joint possession of 21 snapper, with 10 being less than the NSW minimum prescribed size of 30cm, and 47 teraglin with 26 being less than the NSW minimum prescribed size of 38cm. The NSW possession limit for snapper is 10 per person and the NSW possession limit of teraglin is 5 per person. One of the men was also found in possession of a wobbegong shark which has a zero possession limit for recreational fishers in NSW.

Maclean Local Court May 2020

  • A commercial fisher from the Far North Coast was convicted a fined a total of $2,200 and ordered to pay costs of approximately $2,600 and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond for failing to complete commercial fishing (prescribed) activity reports, and for failing to comply with the requirement to produce records. Fisheries officers had earlier placed a formal requirement on the man under the Fisheries Management Act to produce records concerning his possession and disposal of fish taken in the Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery to which the man failed to comply.

Tweed Heads Local Court June 2020

  • A 40 year old woman from Tallebudgera Valley in Queensland was convicted, fined and ordered to pay a contribution towards professional costs the total amount being $7380. The woman had lodged an appeal after being earlier convicted and fined $300 for verbally abusing a fisheries officer during an inspection of a fish retail/wholesale premise at Tweed Heads in May 2017.

Illegal Fishing Reports (2019-20)

  • A total of 3,532 illegal fishing reports were recorded in fisheries compliance systems from multiple sources:
    • 1,874 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 outside business hours.
    • 828 from submissions of the Fishers Watch online form.
    • 830 from other sources such as Fisheries Officers and verbal reports from the community.
  • Some reports lodged using the Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 are not recorded in fisheries compliance systems where they are of no value, duplicitous or unrelated to illegal fishing.
  • The most popular day for reports was Sunday followed by Monday and Saturday.
  • The most popular time was 12pm – 1pm followed by 10am – 11am and 11am – 12pm.

Illegal Fishing Reports by Locality Map (2019-20)

Map showing locations of illegal fishing reports for 2019-20

Images of Fisheries Officer Compliance Activity

Fisheries Officer counting cockles at Lake Illawarra
Fisheries Officers participating in vessel boarding exercises off Nelson Bay
Fisheries Officer retrieving an illegal meshing net from Botany Bay
Fish and illegal meshing net seized from Botany Bay
Boat, motor, trailer and illegal fish traps seized in North Western NSW
Fisheries Officers with boat, motor and fishing gear seized in North Western NSW
Fisheries patrol vehicle at Wentworth Falls Dam in the Blue Mountains
Fisheries Officer with unlawfully mutilated Murray Cod on the Murray River
Fisheries Officer with large quantity of saltwater nippers seized in the Sydney area
Murray Cod rescued from Macquarie River in North West NSW during drought conditions
Fisheries Officer launching an un-manned aerial vehicle (UAV) from fisheries patrol vessel
Fisheries Officer counting cockles at Lake Illawarra
Fisheries Officers participating in vessel boarding exercises off Nelson Bay
Fisheries Officer retrieving an illegal meshing net from Botany Bay
Fish and illegal meshing net seized from Botany Bay
Boat, motor, trailer and illegal fish traps seized in North Western NSW
Fisheries Officers with boat, motor and fishing gear seized in North Western NSW
Fisheries patrol vehicle at Wentworth Falls Dam in the Blue Mountains
Fisheries Officer with unlawfully mutilated Murray Cod on the Murray River
Fisheries Officer with large quantity of saltwater nippers seized in the Sydney area
Murray Cod rescued from Macquarie River in North West NSW during drought conditions
Fisheries Officer launching an un-manned aerial vehicle (UAV) from fisheries patrol vessel

Past enforcement information