Fisheries Compliance Enforcement 2010-11

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2010-11)

A Fisheries Officer interviews a fisherman

  • Around 50,000 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance)
  • Around 3,000 field cautions were issued
  • Around 2,400 penalty notices were issued
  • Over 270 matters were successfully prosecuted, including:
    • 159 court imposed fines
    • 13 gaol sentences (5 individuals)
    • 56 bonds (e.g. good behaviour)
    • 2 Community Service Orders

Seizures due to non-compliance (2010-11)

Officers counting abalone

Over 40,000 “Fish” seized including:

  • 10,146 saltwater nippers
  • 8,317 abalone
  • 8,897 cockles
  • 525 crabs (various species)

Over 3,000 items of fishing gear/equipment including:

  • 21 meshing nets, 13 gill nets
  • 19 cast nets, 517 hoop nets
  • 1,114 crab traps, 68 yabby traps
  • 21 sets of diving gear
  • 4 boats (incl. 1 boat, 58 eels and 9 eel traps from an unlicensed fisher)

Most common offences (2010-11)

Offence (Legislation)




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




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




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




Section 34J(2), Recreational fisher fail to have official receipt in possession, FMA1994




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




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




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




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




Clause 46(3)(a), Use more than 2 hand held lines in inland waters, FM(G)R2010




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




Subtotal of top 10 offences



All other offences



Total of all offences



Note: Section 34J2 offences appear twice as the regulation was changed during the reporting period to require fishers to have the official receipt in their ‘immediate’ possession.

FMA1994 is the Fisheries Management Act 1994

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

Major Compliance Operations (2010-11)

Operation ‘Fusion’ (abalone)

Illegal Abalone Syndicate detected. It will be alleged that a syndicate believed responsible for trafficking illegal abalone worth millions of dollars was detected by a joint NSW DPI and NSW Police operation in February 2011. Two men were arrested on the NSW South Coast and more that 1300 abalone were seized.

Operation Fusion examined the activities of the syndicate since late in 2010, but investigators believe it could have been trafficking illegal abalone worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for well over a decade.

Persons found guilty of trafficking abalone face up to 10 years imprisonment. Repeat offenders can also face fines of up to $88000 for each offence detected.

Crab Trap Operations

Illegal crab traps seized

Illegal Trapping Raids. During the year over 1000 traps were seized following crackdowns on illegal crab trapping.

A commercial fisher was apprehended with more than 20 commercial fish traps, a grappling device and an illegal (monofilament) meshing net was seized during the operation which targeted unlawful trapping at Port Stephens.

In another raid more than 70 unlawfully set fish and crab traps were seized by fisheries officers during an operation in the Wallis Lake District. A man also faced charges for unlawfully setting fish traps and interfering with set fishing gear.

Compliance Operations: Inland (2010-11)

Numerous inland operations were conducted during 2010-11 – targeting:

  • Murray crayfish season
  • Murray cod season
  • November (Melbourne Cup) Victorian Long Weekend
  • Illegal fish trap seized by Fisheries Officers.
  • Queens Birthday Long Weekend
  • Trout cod protection area
  • Trout scooping
  • Trout season
  • Victorian Labour Day Long Weekend

Significant Court Outcomes (2010-11)

Grafton Local Court March 2011

Lobsters seized by Fisheries Officers

One offender convicted of illegal eel trapping:

  • Unlawful use of trap (prior offence) $1000 fine
  • Take fish for sale from unlicensed boat $1000 fine
  • Take fish for sale when unlicensed (prior offence) $3000 fine
  • Boat and eel traps forfeited (not returned)

Liverpool Local Court – January 2011

  • One offender found guilty of offences relating to eastern rock lobsters
  • Convicted (without fine), $79 court costs and $2,992 in professional costs
  • 13 months intensive correction order

Campbelltown Local Court January 2011

  • One offender found guilty of offences relating to saltwater nippers
  • Fined $8,100 with $158 in court costs and $9,580 in professional costs

Moruya Local Court – November 2010

  • Two offenders with rock lobster and abalone offences.
  • Fines totalling $8000, $246 in court costs and $4,400 in professional costs
  • 100 hrs community service order each

Moruya Local Court – September 2010

  • One offender, abalone offences.
  • Convicted with fines totalling $1,000 and $79 in court costs
  • 12 months imprisonment (9 months non-parole)
  • Appealed Wollongong District Court – 12 Months (6 months non-parole)

Bega Local Court – September 2010

A Fisheries Officer impounds a vehicle used in an illegal fishing operation in the State's far west

  • Commercial fisher using trawling methods in closed waters, possess undersize and mutilated fish
  • Convicted with fines of $1,000 as well as $5,000 in professional costs

Nowra Local Court – August 2010

  • 3 men digging and collecting pipis illegally
  • Convicted with fines of $9,000 and court costs of $237 and $7,584 in professional costs

Wentworth Local Court – January 2011

  • One offender convicted of fishing in a closure
  • Fined $450, $79 court costs and $4,753.25 in professional costs

Warren Local Court October 2010

  • Two male offenders convicted for excess set lines, prohibited size fish and possess fish illegally taken in inland waters
  • Fined $1,200 and $850 in professional costs

Corowa Local Court February 2011

  • One offender convicted of taking ‘fish’ from within closed waters and collecting and selling yabbies without required authority
  • Fined $300, $79 in court costs and $1,542 in professional costs
  • 12 month good behaviour bond

Bourke Local Court 2011

  • Commercial fisher using gill nets to take native finfish near Menindee.
  • Fined $960 plus $79 court costs

Fishers Watch (2010-11)

Fishers Watch card

2,913 Fishers Watch calls were logged.

  • Most calls emanated from exchanges in greater Sydney
  • Most popular time to call was Sunday at around 11 AM
  • Mobile phone is the most popular connection device
  • In an Australian first, a web-based reporting function was deployed in September 2010 to create more opportunities for reporting and tap into internet-enabled mobile phones
  • 79 web-based reports received from September 2010 to July 2011

New Patrol Boats

We increased our operational capacity by acquiring two new custom offshore capable fisheries patrol boats, one 6.3 metre Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) for the Tweed Heads District and a 6.8 metre RHIB at Coffs Harbour.

The latter of the two patrol boats the ‘FPV Peter Angel’ was named in honour of the late Peter Angel, a Fisheries Officer of over 40 years service.