Fisheries Compliance Enforcement 2017-18

Client Contacts and Enforcement: All Fishery Programs (2017-18)

  • Around 51,900 client contacts were made (where powers were exercised / not including surveillance).
  • Around 4,000 written warnings were issued.
  • Around 2,200 penalty notices were issued.
  • 200 matters were successfully prosecuted, including;
    • 177 court imposed fines
    • 12 jail sentences (2 individuals – 1 suspended)
    • 11 bonds (e.g. good behaviour)

Seizures due to non-compliance (2017-18)

Over 48,000 fish and invertebrates seized including:

  • 20,836 Cockles
  • 3,315 Whelks
  • 3,133 Oysters
  • 2,560 Abalone
  • 1,950 Pipis
  • 1,592 Turban Snails
  • 757 Blue swimmer crabs
  • 564 Yellowfin bream
  • 501 Snapper
  • 482 Sea Urchins
  • 390 Mussels
  • 345 Periwinkles
  • 344 Tailor
  • 341 Crabs (other)
  • 336 Mud crab
  • 333 Cart rut Shell
  • 332 Sand whiting
  • 308 Eastern rock lobster

Over 2,470 items of fishing gear/equipment including:

  • 1,057 crab traps
  • 457 fishing lines
  • 320 yabby traps
  • 266 hoop or lift nets
  • 61 fish traps
  • 37 cast nets
  • 36 shrimp traps
  • 34 spears
  • 25 meshing nets
  • 17 lobster traps

Most common offences (2017-18)






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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




Clause 46(3)(a), Use more than 2 hand held lines 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

MEMA2014 is the Marine Estate Management Act 2014

Compliance Operations: Coastal (2017-18)

Coastal operations conducted during 2017-18:

  • DPI Quebec 17 (July 2017) targeting illegal fishing from Sydney Harbour commuter wharves.
  • DPI Uniform 17 (July to October 2017) targeting excess bag limits of deep water species off Sydney.
  • DPI Alpha Charlie 17 (September 2017) targeting illegal fishing around hot water outlets of Lake Macquarie.
  • DPI Alpha Juliet 17 (October long weekend 2017) targeting illegal fishing in Wallis Lake.
  • DPI Alba Macula (October to November 2017) joint operation with DPI Biosecurity & Food Safety targeting illegal sales of fish in Sydney region.
  • DPI Bravo 18 (January 2018) targeting illegal collection of shellfish across NSW coastal areas during Australia Day long weekend.
  • DPI Charlie 18 (February 2018) targeting illegal collection of shellfish from Lake Illawarra.
  • DPI Golf 18 (March 2018) targeting illegal sales of seafood in the Newcastle/Swansea area.

Compliance Operations: Inland (2017-18)

Inland operations conducted during 2017-18:

  • DPI Tango 17 (August 2017) targeting illegal fishing in Darling River during Louth races.
  • DPI Whiskey 17 (August 2017) targeting illegal take of Murray Crayfish and Murray Cod along the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Edward Rivers.
  • DPI Yankee 17 (August 2017) targeting illegal fishing in Namoi River during Ag Quip agricultural field days.
  • DPI Alpha Alpha 17 (August – September 2017) patrolling Macleay River prior to and during opening of Australian Bass season.
  • DPI Alpha Echo 17 (September to October 2017) patrolling Murray, Murrumbidgee and Edward Rivers during October long weekend.
  • DPI Alpha Golf 17 (September to October 2017) patrolling Snowy Mountains during Trout Season opening on October long weekend.
  • DPI Alpha Kilo 17 (November 2017) patrolling Murray, Murrumbidgee and Edward Rivers during Melbourne Cub Victorian long weekend.
  • DPI Alpha Oscar 17 (January 2018) targeting illegal take of threatened species in the Murray River Trout Cod Protection area below Lake Mulwala.
  • DPI Alpha 18 (February 2018) targeting illegal sales of fish in the Riverina area during Chinese New Year.
  • DPI Hotel 18 (May 2018) targeting illegal fishing on trout spawning streams in Snowy Mountains.
  • DPI Lima 18 (June 2018) targeting illegal fishing in Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers during Murray Crayfish open season.

Significant Court Results (2017-18)

Downing Centre September 2017

  • A 46-year-old man from Fairfield and a 37-year-old man from Dee Why, found in possession of more than the permitted quantity of deep sea fish species, had the boat they were using forfeited to the State and received $20,000 in fines.

Parramatta Local Court September 2017

  • Three Auburn men appeared before Parramatta Local Court, where they pleaded guilty of possessing more than the limit and possessing prohibited size blue swimmer crabs, which were taken from Lake Wollumboola on the NSW South Coast. Each man was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay professional costs of $500.

Wollongong Local Court November 2017

  • A father and son from Fairfield were ordered to pay more than $16,000 in fines and costs, after being found guilty of breaching a number of fishing rules and regulations while fishing in Lake Illawarra. The two men were convicted of exceeding the possession limit of whelks and cockles, being in possession of prohibited size blue swimmer crabs and crabs carrying external ova as well as for failing to pay the Recreational Fishing Fee.

Wollongong Local Court November 2017

  • Two men pleaded guilty to multiple fisheries offences after being found in joint possession of approximately 240 litres of prawns, which were taken from Lake Wollumboola, Culburra Beach NSW. Both men were fined $4000 and ordered separately to pay $2,517 and $2,167 in professional costs.

Wollongong Local Court December 2017

  • The biggest fines ever issued in NSW for illegal fishing were handed down in a Sydney court, with three men, a company and a Wollongong seafood restaurant heavily penalised.
  • The 50 year old commercial fisher, previously from Wollongong, was fined $77,000 and ordered to pay $250,000 in costs for offences including falsifying log book entries, intentionally declaring fewer rock lobsters than he had caught and then selling the difference illegally to the restaurant on a number of occasions. He was also found guilty of failing to tag commercially caught rock lobsters on a number of occasions as required by NSW DPI and also reusing tags to falsify catch.
  • The fisherman was convicted of 10 counts of trafficking in an indictable species of fish, in addition to 96 other offences. In addition to his fines, he was sentenced to a maximum three years in jail and a non-parole period of two years.
  • On appeal, the jail term for the most serious trafficking conviction was reduced to reflect the time the fisherman had already been imprisoned. The sentence for the remaining trafficking convictions was amended to a two year and two month intensive corrections order, on the condition that the fisherman performs 160 hours of community service.
  • The company that owned the fishing business was fined $378,000 and was also ordered by the court to forfeit all its shares in the lobster fishery, which could be worth around one million dollars. In addition to this, it was ordered to pay $70000 in costs*.
  • The restaurant was charged with 30 offences including receiving fish for commercial use without being registered and trafficking an indictable species of fish and were fined $398,000. They were also ordered to pay $150,000 in costs.

*Subject to appeal.

Sutherland Local Court April 2017

  • A fisher was fined $10,000 for illegally taking shellfish. The man, a repeat offender, was among a group of four other men apprehended for illegally collecting nearly 2,000 shellfish in the Port Hacking River. The apprehension was the result of a coordinated approach by Fisheries Officers and Boating Safety Officers from NSW Roads & Maritime Services.

Port Kembla Local Court April 2017

  • A woman was fined more than $18,000 after a raid on her Kiama bakery saw her convicted of serious fisheries offences for illegal possession of abalone.

Newcastle Local Court July 2017

  • Two men were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines after being found guilty of illegally trafficking eastern rock lobsters in Newcastle earlier this year. One of the men was issued with $14,000 in penalties, ordered to pay an additional penalty of $22,000 relating to the market value of the catch, as well as placed on a 2 year good behaviour bond while his vehicle was forfeited to the Crown. The other man was placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond plus issued with $6000 in penalties.

Illegal Fishing Reports (2017-18)

  • A total of 3,049 illegal fishing reports were recorded in fisheries compliance systems from multiple sources:
    • 1466 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 outside business hours.
    • 595 from submissions of the Fishers Watch online form.
    • 352 from calls to Fishers Watch Hotline 1800 043 536 during business hours.
    • 636 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 2pm – 3pm and 3pm – 4pm.

Illegal Fishing Reports by Locality Map (2017-18)

Map showing the amount of reports received around NSW. Contact the content owner to discuss this further

Images of Fisheries Officer Compliance Activity