Fisheries compliance enforcement

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2018-19)

  • Around 49,000 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance).
  • Around 4220 written warnings were issued.
  • Around 2476 penalty notices were issued.
  • 221 matters were successfully prosecuted, including;
    • 146 court imposed fines
    • 5 jail sentences (3 individuals)
    • 9 bonds (e.g. good behaviour)

Seizures due to non-compliance (2018-19)

Over 54,000 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

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

  • 1,364 crab traps
  • 316 fishing lines
  • 251 hoop or lift nets
  • 90 yabby traps
  • 52 meshing nets
  • 44 cast nets
  • 42 spears
  • 22 fish traps
  • 15 shrimp traps
  • 12 lobster traps
  • 1 motor vehicle
  • 1 vessel

Most common offences (2018-19)

#

Program

Count

%

1

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

1530

21.00%

2

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

1138

15.62%

3

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

759

10.42%

4

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

531

7.29%

5

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

283

3.88%

6

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

261

3.58%

7

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

199

2.73%

8

Clause 46(4) Leave hand held line unattended in inland waters FM(G)R2010

159

2.18%

9

Clause 45(1) Place/set net/fishing gear not identified in accordance with Regulation FM(G)R2010

154

2.11%

10

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

150

2.06%

Subtotal of top 10 offences

5,164

70.89%

All other offences

2,121

29.11%

Total of all offences

7,285

100.0%

FMA1994 is the Fisheries Management Act 1994

FM(G)R2010 is the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010

MEMA2014 is the Marine Estate Management Act 2014

Compliance Operations: Coastal (2018-19)

Coastal operations conducted during 2018-19:

  • DPI Zulu 18 (July 2019 - ongoing) targeting illegal abalone harvest in Batemans Bay area
  • DPI Sierra 18 (August 2018) targeting illegal fishing in Batemans Marine Park sanctuary zones
  • DPI Alpha Alpha 18 (December 2018) targeting illegal sale of fish in the Batemans Bay area
  • DPI Alpha Foxtrot 18 (December 2018) targeting illegal take of rock lobster and mud crabs on the NSW North Coast leading up to Christmas
  • DPI Alpha Golf 18 (January 2019) targeting illegal collection of shellfish from Sydney and Central Coast inter-tidal areas
  • DPI Bravo 19 (January 2019) targeting the illegal harvest and sale of bait products in the Sydney area
  • DPI Hotel 19 (April 2019) targeting illegal fishing in the Macleay River
  • DPI Kilo 19 (April 2019) targeting illegal fishing during the Port Stephens Trailer Boat Fishing Competition
  • DPI Juliet 19 (April 2019) targeting illegal collection of shellfish Illawarra inter-tidal areas in particular Lake Illawarra
  • DPI Sierra 19 (May 2019 – July 2019) targeting illegal fishing in Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park sanctuary zones

Compliance Operations: Inland (2018-19)

Inland operations conducted during 2018-19:

  • DPI Quebec 18 (August 2018) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers during last weekend of Murray Crayfish and Murray Cod seasons.
  • DPI Romeo 18 (August 2018) patrolling Namoi and Peel Rivers in North Western NSW during AgQuip Field Days.
  • DPI Victor 18 (September - October 2018) targeting influx of recreational fishers to rivers and impoundments in South Western NSW during long weekends in NSW, South Australia and Victoria.
  • DPI Yankee 18 (November 2018) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Murray River during 4 day Melbourne Cup Long Weekend.
  • DPI Alpha Bravo 18 (November 2018) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Snowy Mountains rivers and impoundments during 2018 Snowy Mountains Trout Festival.
  • DPI Alpha Echo 18 and DPI Alpha Delta 18 (November to December 2018) targeting influx of recreational fishers to NSW inland rivers and impoundments prior to and during the Murray Cod open season.
  • DPI Alpha Kilo 18 (January 2019) targeting illegal fishing for threatened fish species in South Western NSW rivers
  • DPI Alpha Hotel 18 (December 2018) targeting illegal sale of fish in North Western NSW.
  • DPI Foxtrot 19 (March 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Riverina rivers during Victorian and ACT long weekends.
  • DPI Mike 19 (April 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers in North Western NSW during Easter weekend
  • DPI India 19 (April 2019) targeting influx of recreational fishers to South Western NSW rivers and impoundments during Easter weekend
  • DPI November 19 (May – June 2019) targeting illegal fishing in Snowy Mountains trout spawning streams.
  • DPI Oscar 19 (June 2019) targeting illegal fishing during Murray Crayfish season opening in South Western NSW

Significant Court Results (2018-19)

Newcastle Local Court July 2018

  • Two men were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines after being found guilty of numerous offences, with the most serious being illegally trafficking eastern rock lobsters. A 56 year-old man was issued with $14,000 in penalties and ordered to pay an additional penalty of $22,000 relating to the market value of the catch. He was also placed on a 2 year good behaviour bond and his vehicle which was seized by Fisheries officers at the time of apprehension, was forfeited to the Crown. His accomplice, a 25 year-old man was placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond plus issued with $6000 in penalties.

Newcastle Local Court December 2018

  • A commercial fisher from Newcastle was convicted and fined $13,800 with total costs amounting to $19,500 as well a 12 month Community Correction Order imposed. The man was apprehended with 8 Eastern rock lobsters and found guilty of numerous charges relating to taking fish for sale when unauthorised, the illegal possession of fish, possessing prohibited size fish and unlawful use of gear.

Wollongong Local Court December 2018

  • A man and the business he owned were convicted of selling two Southern Bluefin tuna and failing to provide records when requested by officers. Officers detected the fish during an inspection of a retail fish shop. A total of $7000 in fines was awarded.

Wollongong District Court February 2019

  • Appeals relating to Operation Talon were finalised with all local court rulings being upheld except for the 3 year gaol term received by the commercial fisher involved which was reduced to an Intensive Corrections Order for the remaining time not served, after being approximately 9 months in goal. Collectively the penalties and costs awarded added up to around $3 million dollars, which included the forfeiture of around $1.5 million dollars’ worth of lobster shares. Operation Talon successfully targeted and dismantled an illegal syndicate involved in the systematic theft and sale of illegally taken Eastern rock lobsters in the Wollongong area.

Wollongong District Court March 2019

  • A District Court Severity Appeal saw a man’s convictions upheld for offences relating to the possession of 35 abalone (34 prohibited size) in the Wollongong area.  The defendant initiated a severity appeal in the District Court after being given some significant penalties in the Local Court. . All fines and orders were upheld and a further $3000 in costs were awarded. His total penalties amounted to $14,742 and a 12 month Community Corrections Order.

Kempsey Local Court March 2019

  • A Mid North Coast commercial fisher was found guilty and ordered to pay total penalties of $7702 after being caught by Fisheries officers taking crabs from illegally set crab traps in the closed waters of the Belmore River.

Wollongong District Court March 2019

  • An appeal of severity of a 9 month gaol term was set aside in Wollongong District Court. In lieu of the sentence of imprisonment the offender was ordered to enter into a Community Corrections Order for a period eighteen months and must complete 100 hours of community service. The man was originally gaoled in January for offences relating to the aggravated possession of 52 prohibited sized abalone at Shell Cove. He was also ordered to pay $1605 in professional costs in the Local Court and then a further $990 in the District Court

Maclean Local Court April 2019

  • A North Coast commercial fisher from Iluka was found guilty of committing numerous offences relating to possessing prohibited sized fish, unlawful use of gear, possession of fish taken illegally and obstructing Fisheries officers. The offences related to two different events. He received more than $18,000 in fines and professional costs in relation to two different matters.

Burwood Local Court May 2019

  • Three men were convicted and ordered to pay a total of $26,277 in penalties and costs after being found guilty of offences relating to the joint possession of 94 abalone, with 92 of those fish being of a prohibited size. The men were apprehended in the Bermagui area and appealed their penalties, which were ultimately upheld in the District Court.

Wentworth Local Court June 2019

  • As a result of Operation Weelsby, which was a multi-state joint operation targeted the illegal take and sale of native finfish, a 36-year-old Pomona man has been hit with $15,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous fisheries offences relating to taking fish for sale when unauthorised, possession limits, unlawful use of gear and taking a declared species of fish in the Wentworth Local Court. He was convicted of all charges, fined a total of $12,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 in costs. A boat that was seized by Fisheries officers at the time of apprehension was also forfeited to the Crown.

Illegal Fishing Reports (2018-19)

  • A total of 3,575 illegal fishing reports were recorded in fisheries compliance systems from multiple sources:
    • 1,775 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 outside business hours.
    • 673 from submissions of the Fishers Watch online form.
    • 418 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 during business hours.
    • 709 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 Saturday and Monday.
  • The most popular time was 2pm - 3pm followed by 3pm – 4pm and 12pm – 1pm.

Illegal Fishing Reports by Locality Map (2018-19)

Map showing locations of illegal fishing reports for 2018-19

Images of Fisheries Officer Compliance Activity

Two fishing inspectors conducting compliance inspections of inland fish farms
Fisheries officers cutting a ribbon for the opening of the new Tweed Marine Centre in Tweed Heads
Eastern Rock Lobsters seized from a NSW commercial fisher
Fisheries officer manning a display at a caravan show
Image of fish, nets and vessel seized from offender in South Western NSW
Fisheries officer with illegal fishing gear seized from North Western NSW rivers and impoundments
Image of fisheries officers on patrol boat with seized illegal traps
Image of abalone and dive equipment seized from NSW south coast
Photo of fisheries officers at conference in Sydney
Image of prohibited size yellowtail kingfish seized from Botany bay
Two fishing inspectors conducting compliance inspections of inland fish farms
Fisheries officers cutting a ribbon for the opening of the new Tweed Marine Centre in Tweed Heads
Eastern Rock Lobsters seized from a NSW commercial fisher
Fisheries officer manning a display at a caravan show
Image of fish, nets and vessel seized from offender in South Western NSW
Fisheries officer with illegal fishing gear seized from North Western NSW rivers and impoundments
Image of fisheries officers on patrol boat with seized illegal traps
Image of abalone and dive equipment seized from NSW south coast
Photo of fisheries officers at conference in Sydney
Image of prohibited size yellowtail kingfish seized from Botany bay

Past enforcement information