TWO men have been apprehended and face serious charges after they were allegedly found illegally fishing for abalone and eastern rock lobster at Bermagui on the NSW Far South Coast.
Department of Primary Industries’ director of fisheries compliance Glenn Tritton said Fisheries officers received information regarding suspicious diving activity north of Bermagui and south of Narooma.
“Officers located two divers in the water and began surveillance, during which they witnessed the men exit the water and shuck a large quantity of abalone,” Mr Tritton said.
“Fisheries officers then intercepted the men and located a bag hidden along the beach access track.
“It is alleged that the bag contained 61 shucked abalone, eight live abalone and one eastern rock lobster which were seized by fisheries officers along with two sets of diving gear.”
The lobster and 20 of the abalone were found to be of a prohibited size.
The two men, both from Bermagui, will face a number of charges including trafficking in an indictable species, being abalone; possess shucked abalone and possess undersize abalone.
Mr Tritton said one of the men will face additional charges of providing false information and breaching a prohibition order.
“NSW Police attended the scene as the men were uncooperative and were believed to be providing false information to fisheries officers,” he said.
“One of the men was found to have provided a false name and it was later determined that he is subject to a current prohibition order that prevents him from taking or being in possession of more than two abalone.
“By breaching the prohibition order, the 28-year-old man will now face penalties of up $22,000 as well as 12 months imprisonment.
“Abalone theft is taken very seriously in NSW as it places unnecessary pressure on our stocks and threatens the sustainability of the resource for future generations.
“Fisheries officers will continue to target those involved in the illegal fishing of abalone and bring them in front of the courts.”
Anyone who suspects illegal fishing is urged to contact the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536; or lodge an information report through the DPI website: www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au