A LARGE illegal abalone theft has been intercepted on the Far South Coast as part of a joint NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and NSW Police Force
NSW DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Glenn Tritton said the operation was the result of surveillance of diving activity by fisheries officers from the NSW DPI Statewide Operations and Investigations Group.
“Following information received regarding diving activity and surveillance by fisheries officers, a motor vehicle carrying five men was stopped south of Bodalla on
the Princes Highway by NSW Police,” Mr Tritton said.
“Fisheries officers attended the scene and conducted a search of the vehicle and found two large sports bags containing a total of 429 whole live abalone weighing 81.6 kilograms.
“A quantity of wet diving gear and equipment was also found in the rear of the vehicle.
“The five men, aged between 22 and 31 from Moruya, Batemans Bay and Nowra, will be issued with court attendance notices.
“The vehicle, abalone, diving gear and equipment were seized and the abalone was returned to the water alive.”
Mr Tritton said the five men will face charges of aggravated joint possession of 429 abalone, aggravated joint possession of 388 prohibited size abalone and trafficking an indictable species of fish.
“Abalone is listed as a priority and indictable species under NSW law and the catch limit is two abalone per person in waters open to the taking of abalone,” Mr Tritton said.
“Persons found guilty of trafficking abalone could face up to 10 years imprisonment. Repeat offenders can also face fines of up to $88,000 for each offence detected.
“The illegal fishing of abalone will not be tolerated in NSW and we will continue to target anyone involved in the illegal taking and trafficking of this precious resource.”
Anyone with information on illegal activity is encouraged to contact their local NSW DPI Fisheries Office or call the Fisher’s Watch line on 1800 043 536.