Fisheries compliance enforcement

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2020-21)

  • Around 52,688 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance).
  • The detection of 7463 offences resulting in:
    • The issue of 4306 written warnings
    • The issue of 2752 penalty notices totalling $925,475.00 in value.
    • The commencement of 185 prosecution actions
    • 220 other outcomes such as verbal cautions and stop work orders
  • 124 offences were successfully prosecuted, including:
    • 110 court imposed fines totalling $108,450 in value
    • 5 community correction orders
    • 1 intensive correction order

Seizures due to non-compliance (2020-21)

Over 66,900 invertebrates seized including:

  • 23,085 Cockles
  • 22,172 mixed shellfish
  • 6,663 Oysters
  • 2,854 Turban Snails
  • 2,403 Abalone
  • 2,302 Pipi
  • 2,092 Black Nerite Sea Snail
  • 1,122 Whelks
  • 935 Periwinkle
  • 923 Sea Urchin

Over 3,370 fin fish seized including:

  • 447 Snapper
  • 427 Yellowfin bream
  • 343 Tailor
  • 331 Sand whiting
  • 245 Silver trevally
  • 203 Tarwhine
  • 162 Sweep
  • 118 Yellowtail kingfish
  • 106 Rock blackfish
  • 103 Mullet

Over 2,070 items of fishing gear/equipment including:

  • 895 Crab trap
  • 378 Fishing Line
  • 177 Yabby trap
  • 115 Hoop or lift net
  • 49 Fish Trap (inland)
  • 46 Spear
  • 43 Bucket
  • 34 Cast Net
  • 34 Shrimp trap
  • 30 Lobster trap

Most common offences (2020-21)

#

Program

Count

%

1

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

1773

23.76%

2

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

1202

16.11%

3

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

673

9.02%

4

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

624

8.36%

5

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

413

5.53%

6

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

227

3.04%

7

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

172

2.30%

8

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

155

2.08%

9

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

113

1.51%

10

Clause 1.25(2) Possess equipment for taking prohibited animal/plant MEM(MR)R1999

109

1.46%

Subtotal of top 10 offences

5,461

73.17%

All other offences

2,002

26.83%

Total of all offences

7,463

100.00%

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

MEM(MR)R1999 is the Marine Estate Management (Management Rules Regulation 1999

Compliance Operations: Coastal (2020-21)

Coastal operations conducted during 2020-21:

  • Operation Victor 20 (July 2020 – July 2021) targeting illegal fishing in Batemans Marine Park sanctuary zones
  • Operation Alpha Alpha 20 (August – December 2020) targeting illegal take of Eastern Freshwater Cod protected species in the Mann and Nymboida Rivers
  • Operation Alpha Golf 20 (August 2020) targeting unlicensed charter fishing activities in the Sydney area
  • Operation Alpha Bravo 20 (September – November 2020) targeting illegal take of deep-water fish species off Sydney
  • Operation Alpha India 20 (September 2020) targeting illegal interference of commercial fishing gear in the Coffs Harbour area
  • Operation Alpha Kilo 20 (October 2020 – March 2021) targeting illegal mud crab fishing activity in the Port Stephens area
  • Operation Alpha Oscar (November – December 2020) targeting the illegal harvest and sale of bait products in the Sydney and Central Coast area
  • Operation Alpha Uniform 20 (December 2020 – May 2021) targeting the theft of crabs and crab traps from the commercial fishing sector in the Forster/Wallis Lake area
  • Operation Alpha 21 (December 2020) Joint operation with NSW Police targeting illegal commercial crab fishing activity on the Clarence River
  • Operation Delta 21 (January – April 2021) targeting illegal squid fishing in Sydney Aquatic Reserves
  • Operation Alpha Yankee 20 (January 2021) targeting illegal shellfish collection in the Greater Sydney area
  • Operation Golf 21 (May – June 2021) targeting non-compliance the offshore commercial fishing sector on the NSW south coast

Compliance Operations: Inland (2020-21)

Inland operations conducted during 2019-20:

  • Operation Alpha Charlie 20 (August – December 2020) targeting illegal take of Golden Perch by recreational fishers in the Murray River
  • Operation Xray 20 (August 2020) targeting illegal fishing on the lead up and during the ‘Colly Cod Classic fishing competition’ at Collarenebri
  • DPI Alpha Echo 20 (October 2020) targeting influx of recreational fishers to Snowy Mountains area during Labour Day Long Weekend
  • Operation Alpha Lima 20 (October – November 2020) targeting increase in recreational fishing along Murray River during AFL Grand Final and Melbourne Cup long weekends
  • Operation Alpha Quebec 20 (November – December 2020) targeting the high number of recreational fishers targeting Murray Cod upon opening of the Murray Cod season on 1st December
  • Operation  Juliet 21 (May – June 2021) targeting fisheries offences in the Thredbo River, Eucumbene River and their tributaries during trout spawning season from May 1st to the end of June long weekend.

Significant Court Results (2020-21)

Wollongong Local Court (December 2020)

  • A 39 year old man from Gerringong was charged and pleaded guilty to taking fish for sale when not authorised to do so by a commercial fishing licence. Fisheries Officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group conducted covert surveillance of a recreational diver after he completed his lobster diving activity. The surveillance was part of a broader operation looking at the unlicensed take and sale of high value seafood (particularly lobster and abalone) in the greater Illawarra area, named Operation Trinity. Fisheries Officers observed the man travel to a Hotel in Gerringong, where he was observed to sell six (6) Eastern Rock Lobsters (ERL) in the car park of the hotel. Fisheries Officers observed the diver receive a quantity of cash during the transaction. The man was convicted and fined $1350.

Kiama Local Court (December 2020)

  • Three men appeared before Kiama Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to a number of charges in relation to offences, under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 including Possession of prohibited size Eastern rock lobster and possession of more than the possession limit of Eastern rock lobster in circumstances of aggravation. Each defendant received $2000 in fines. The seized boat was ordered to be returned by the court however the dive gear used to commit the offences was forfeited upon conviction.

Gosford Local Court (January 2021)

  • A commercial fisherman was convicted in respect of four offences in Gosford Local Court. The Magistrate found all 4 matters including sell prohibited sized fish, possess fish taken in breach of closure and contravening conditions of his endorsement were proven with the commercial fisherman receiving a total of $14,000 in fines.

Maclean Local Court (February 2021)

  • Investigations into unlicensed commercial fishers revealed one man had been fishing while unlicenced on 6 occasions between Oct 2018 and January 2019 for a total 1553kg of fish while the other man had fished on 8 occasions in December 2018 for a total 872kg of fish.
    Fisheries Officers later seized the proceeds of the fish sold in January which totalled $18,955. One of the men was convicted on 6 charges of unlicenced commercial fishing and fined a total of $10,000. The second man pleaded guilty to 8 charges of unlicenced commercial fishing and was convicted on all 8 charges and fined a total of $5,800.

Nowra Local Court (March 2021)

  • Thursday 12 July 2018 Fisheries Officers received information from members of the public in relation to lobster theft.  NSW Police then stopped a vehicle on the Princes Highway at Nowra, at the request of NSW Fisheries Officers. Fisheries Officers attended the location and found two (2) men with 86 Eastern Rock Lobsters, 48 of which were of prohibited size.  One man plead guilty in Nowra Local Court and was sentenced on 25/10/2019. He received fines totalling $6000 and ordered to pay $1056 in court costs. The second man pled not guilty and was later found guilty in Nowra Local Court receiving fines totalling $6000 and ordered to pay $7036 in court costs.

Narooma Local Court (March 2021)

  • A  44 year old South Coast man was sentenced to a term of 9 months imprisonment.  The sentence was ordered to be served by way of Intensive Corrective Order.  The man was also ordered to pay a total of $6,750 in fines, costs and additional monetary penalties. The sentence was as a result of a NSW DPI Fisheries apprehension at Aragunnu within the Mimosa Rocks National Park, on the Far South Coast in November 2017.  The man was caught by Fisheries Officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group in possession of 262 abalone with another co-offender.  The abalone were shucked, with the shells concealed under rocks near the water. The man was found guilty of trafficking abalone and shucking abalone unlawfully.

Finley Magistrates Court (April 2021)

  • Two men faced Finley Magistrates Court on the 22 of April 2021. Both men pleaded guilty to a combined total of 7 Fisheries offences ranging from possess prohibited size fish, possess more than the possession limit, possess Murray Crayfish carrying ova externally and unlawful use of net/trap. The two men were convicted and received a combined total of $6400 in fines plus court costs.

Port Kembla Local Court (May 2021)

  • A member of the public was been found guilty and fined $1300 for illegal intertidal shellfish collecting and failing to pay the NSW recreational fishing fee at Port Kembla after information was received from the Fishers Watch hotline. 1,702 Molluscs were found concealed in the rear of a vehicle after it was searched by a Fisheries Officer. The offender was prosecuted for more than the possession limit of fish and failing to pay the recreational fishing fee.

Wyong Local Court (May 2021)

  • A male in his 50's and female in her 40's both from Bankstown were inspected by NSW Fisheries Officers whilst fishing from a wharf at North Entrance, NSW. The officers located a total of 103 prohibited sized fish.  The couple pleaded guilty to charges of possessing prohibited sized fish and exceeding the possession limit of fish. They were convicted and fined $1200 each for possession of prohibited sized fish and were also convicted, with no other penalty for all 8 remaining offences.

Finley Local Court (May 2021)

  • A man faced Finley Local Court on Thursday 20th May 2021 where he pleaded guilty to fishing in closed waters and using more than the prescribed amount of fishing gear. The man also pleaded guilty to the take and possession of prohibited size Murray Crayfish and Murray Crayfish carrying ova externally. The man was convicted of each offence and was fined a total of $3000 plus court costs.

Illegal Fishing Reports (2020-21)

  • A total of 3,945 illegal fishing reports were recorded in fisheries compliance systems from multiple sources:
    • 2,471 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536
    • 860 from submissions of the Fishers Watch online form.
    • 614 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 12pm – 1pm followed by 10am – 11am and 9am-10am.

Illegal Fishing Reports by Locality Map (2020-21)

Illegal Fishing Reports by Locality Map (2020-21)

Images of Fisheries Officer Compliance Activity

Fisheries officers on patrol in north western NSW
Fisheries patrol vehicle and cockles seized from Botany Bay
Fisheries patrol vessel ‘Solitary Ranger’ under power offshore from Coffs Harbour
Fisheries officer conducting environmental audit in northern NSW
Illegal wire fish traps seized from a north western NSW river
Fisheries officer conducting commercial fisher trawler inspection on Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officer conducting commercial fisher trawler inspection on Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officers patrolling Murray River near Albury
Fisheries officer conducting covert surveillance along the Murray River near Albury
Fisheries officers patrolling Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officers participating in baton and handcuff training
Fisheries officers on patrol in north western NSW
Fisheries patrol vehicle and cockles seized from Botany Bay
Fisheries patrol vessel ‘Solitary Ranger’ under power offshore from Coffs Harbour
Fisheries officer conducting environmental audit in northern NSW
Illegal wire fish traps seized from a north western NSW river
Fisheries officer conducting commercial fisher trawler inspection on Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officer conducting commercial fisher trawler inspection on Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officers patrolling Murray River near Albury
Fisheries officer conducting covert surveillance along the Murray River near Albury
Fisheries officers patrolling Sydney Harbour
Fisheries officers participating in baton and handcuff training

Past enforcement information