Fisheries Compliance Enforcement 2013-14

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2013-14)

  • Around 50,000 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance)
  • Around 4,180 written warnings were issued
  • Around 2,120 penalty notices were issued
  • Over 300 matters were successfully prosecuted, including:
    • 220 court imposed fines
    • 10 gaol sentences (5 individuals)
    • 50 bonds (e.g. good behaviour)
    • 3 Community Service Orders

Seizures due to non-compliance (2013-14)

Over 45,000 fish and invertebrates seized including:

  • 9,100 cockles
  • 8,900 nippers (saltwater)
  • 2,000 oysters
  • 480 eastern rock lobsters
  • 470 eels
  • 420 snapper
  • 400 Yellowfin bream
  • 400 Blue swimmer crabs
  • 300 tailor

Over 3100 items of fishing gear/equipment including:

  • 1,090 crab traps
  • 1,050 fishing lines
  • 450 hoop or lift nets
  • 138 yabby traps
  • 43 meshing nets
  • 40 spears
  • 36 cast nets
  • 3 boats

Most common offences (2013-14)


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 17A, Harm or attempt to harm an animal in sanctuary zone - designated serious offence, MPA1997




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




Subtotal of top 10 offences




All other offences




Total of all offences



FMA1994 is the Fisheries Management Act 1994
FM(G)R2010 is the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2010
MPA1997 is the Marine Parks Act 1997

Major compliance operations (2013-14)

Illegal harvesting of invertebrates

An operation targeting the illegal harvesting of invertebrates in Sydney over the 2014 Australia Day long weekend resulted in the seizure of more than 3000 invertebrates and almost $15,000 in penalty infringement notices handed out.

Unlawful spearfishing on North Coast

Four men were observed spearfishing at 11.30pm with the aid of lights on February 13 2014 at Hat Head. Fisheries Officers approached the men as they exited the water, and when questioned, the men, admitted to spearfishing a quantity of fish and an under-size mud crab in the creek, with the aid of lights. The men were issued a range of sanctions including $1,200 in Penalty Notices for spearing in waters closed to spearfishing and use of a spear gun aided by lights in any waters for the purpose of taking fish. A quantity of speared fish was seized, including a prohibited size mud crab. Officers also seized the offenders’ three spear guns and one hand spear.

Illegal eel fishing

A commercial fisher was apprehended and had his vehicle and boat seized after undercover fisheries officers observed him and another person allegedly fishing illegally for eels in the State’s Hunter Valley. Fisheries Officers allegedly witnessed a 49 year old commercial fisher and a 45 year woman using and setting six eels traps on private properties in the Maitland and Singleton areas. The pair were apprehended and had a number items seized including their vehicle, a canoe, six eel traps, a live storage tank and 42 longfin eels. The pair will appear in a local court on a number of charges.

Compliance operations: Inland (2013-14)

Numerous inland operations were conducted during 2013-14:

  • DPI Alpha Golf 13 (October 2013) patrolling Monaro trout spawning streams during opening weekend
  • DPI Alpha November 13 (November 2013) patrolling south west rivers on Victorian labour day long weekend
  • DPI Alpha Tango 13 (November 2013) patrolling Lake Cowal
  • DPI Alpha Papa 13 (November 2013) patrolling Keepit Dam
  • DPI Alpha Victor 13 (November 2013) patrolling south west rivers on Murray cod opening
  • DPI Alpha Oscar 13 (December 2013) conducting inspections of restaurants in the state’s North West
  • DPI Alpha Sierra 13 (January 2014 ongoing) patrolling Glenbawn Dam and Lake St Clair
  • DPI Bravo 14 (March 2014) patrolling south western rivers on Victorian labour day long weekend
  • DPI Juliet 14 and DPI India 14 (April 2014) patrolling western waterways over Easter long weekend
  • DPI Oscar 14 (June 2014 Queen’s Birthday long weekend) patrolling snowy mountains trout streams
  • DPI November 14 (June 2014 Queen’s Birthday long weekend) patrolling North Western rivers
  • DPI Mike 14 (June 2014 Queen’s Birthday long weekend) patrolling South Western rivers long weekend targeting persons fishing for Murray crayfish

Significant Court Outcomes (2013-14)

Moruya Local Court July 2013

  • A Bodalla man has been convicted of illegal fishing following a covert surveillance operation. The 54 year-old man was observed by Fisheries Officers in April 2013 setting a 68 metre meshing net in the Tuross River, which is a declared a recreational fishing haven. He was convicted of each charge, placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond, fined $500 and had his boat and motor, worth $3,500, forfeited to the Crown.

Milton Local Court October 2013

  • The skipper of a South Coast based trawler was fined $4,000 plus placed on a good behaviour bond by Milton Local Court for selling prohibited size fish. Fisheries Officers inspected the catch of a 49 year old man from Ulladulla in Sydney in December 2012, after they suspected the majority of the fish were undersized. On inspection it was estimated that 90% of the 1,115 kilograms of silver trevally for sale were of a prohibited size.

Kiama Local Court October 2013

  • Two men were convicted of abalone theft, fined $4,000 each and placed on good behaviour bonds after being caught stealing 185 abalone. Fisheries Officers acted on information received and established an undercover operation at Kiama Heights in November 2011. The men were apprehended with the assistance of NSW Police when they returned to a nearby car park and Fisheries Officers seized 185 shucked abalone, dive gear and equipment. A 20 year-old man from Albion Park and a 24 year-old man from Warilla were both fined $4,000 each and placed on good behaviour bonds.

Maclean Local Court January 2014

  • Spearing NSW’s official state fish resulted in fines and professional costs of $3,660 plus additional court costs after a man was convicted for killing six Blue Groper on the NSW north coast. When approached by Fisheries Officers at Evans Head on April 2013 the 59-year-old man from Noosaville Queensland was found in possession of six Blue Groper. The man pleaded guilty to two charges including taking Blue Groper by means other than a rod and line; possessing six Blue Groper when the limit is two; and possessing two Blue Groper over 60 centimetres when only one Blue Groper can exceed this size.

Narrandera Local Court January 2014

  • A man was issued with two penalty notices totalling $1,000 for possessing threatened species (trout cod) and prohibited size Murray cod. He elected to have the matter heard in court where he pleaded guilty and was convicted and fined $1,320 plus instructed to pay $660 in professional costs, a total of $1,980.

Warren Local Court February 2014

  • Four offenders plead guilty to a number of charges including use more than two hand held lines in inland waters, use drift line for taking fish from any waters, possess prohibited fishing gear (cast net), possess prohibited fishing gear (63 rigged handlines), possess prohibited fishing gear (7 prohibited traps), use live finfish as lure or bait to take fish from inland waters. Two of the offenders also plead guilty to failing to pay the recreational fishing fee. Each man was fined $2500, as well as $660 professional costs and ordered to pay court costs.

Sutherland Local Court May 2014

  • A Sydney man discovered by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Officers attempting to sell illegal fishing gear online has been fined and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond. Following an anonymous report from a member of the public, Fisheries Officers discovered a man from Rockdale had listed illegal gill nets for sale on a popular online sales website. The man was convicted, fined a total of $2,000 and placed on a good behaviour bond for the next 12 months.

Griffith District Court June 2014

  • A man has been fined $7,300, ordered to pay professional costs of $1,220 and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond after a search of a restaurant in Narrandera by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries officers uncovered an endangered fish species as well as prohibited size fish and a quantity of fish in excess of possession limits. Acting on information, Fisheries Officers conducted a search of a restaurant at Narrandera in February 2012 and located and seized 18 Murray cod, 23 golden perch and one trout cod. The 63-year-old owner of the restaurant appeared in the Narrandera Local Court in April 2014 and pleaded guilty. He was convicted and fined. He immediately lodged an appeal on grounds of severity. The appeal was heard at Griffith District Court on 17 June 2014. The court upheld the most serious charge of possessing the endangered trout cod and confirmed the fine of $3,300. In addition, he was also fined for exceeding his possession limit of fish in circumstances of aggravation, and possession of prohibited size fish also in circumstances of aggravation.

Fishers Watch (2013-14)

3785 Fishers Watch calls were logged.

  • Top telephone exchanges were Sydney, Gosford, Newcastle & Nowra
  • Most popular days: Saturday, Monday and Sunday
  • Most popular time: around 11:30am
  • Mobile phone is the most popular connection device
  • 150 web-based reports

Images of Fisheries Officer compliance activity

An illegal meshing net seized from South Western NSW

Illegal eel traps and holding pen

Seized crabs and finfish

Freshwater native fish seized from an inland NSW restaurant

Measuring an oversize lobster

Illegal fishing gear seized from North Western NSW

Counting illegally caught abalone from South Coast NSW

Illegal nets and fishing gear seized from north western NSW

Fisheries patrol vessel in estuarine waters