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News & Media

  • Dumped abalone shells reveal illegal fishing in Port Stephens
  • January 30, 2014

Photo: Abalone shells found dumped at Fingal Bay.

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is appealing to the public for information regarding abalone shell dumps around Port Stephens’ Fingal Bay, which are strong indicators of illegal fishing activity in the area.

DPI Senior Investigator, Tony Chen, said recent bushfires in the area had uncovered a large number of dumped abalone shells, previously hidden by scrub.

“We have received numerous reports from concerned local fishers regarding abalone shell dumps around Fingal Bay which contained indictable quantities of abalone, many of which were also undersized,” Mr Chen said.

“We believe whoever is doing this is taking the abalone from nearby waters, shucking them in what was scrub before the fires, then leaving the shells behind.

“It is a real concern to see this total disregard of rules designed to help ensure the long term sustainability of abalone and we suspect a local diver or divers are possibly responsible.

“It is likely that someone in the area knows the person or persons involved and we are appealing to anyone with information to come forward. There are rewards of up to $1000 for information relating to illegal abalone fishing that result in a conviction.”

Mr Chen said abalone theft is taken very seriously in NSW and rules in relation to taking abalone have been strictly enforced over many years.

“We have seen abalone stocks recovering due to an increase in size limits to a minimum prescribed length of 11.7cm, a reduction in possession limits to two per person and a fishing closure between Port Stephens and Jervis Bay,” he said.

“In NSW, an indictable quantity of abalone is 50 or more, and fishers caught illegally taking, in possession of, or selling more than this could get up to 10 years imprisonment. Courts can also impose a monetary penalty of up to 10 times the value of the fish.

“The shucking of abalone or the possession of shucked abalone in, on, or adjacent to waters is also an offence and can attract fines of up to $5500.

“Abalone theft threatens the sustainability of the abalone fishery for future generations and the public play a vital role in the fight against this kind of illegal fishing in our waterways.”

Information concerning illegal fishing can be reported to the Fisher’s Watch Phone Line on 1800 043 536 or via the web at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

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