Largest abalone seizure in 20 years...
A surveillance operation led by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries officers has resulted in the seizure of more than 3,300 illegal abalone and shark fin in Western Sydney - the biggest seizure of abalone in more than two decades.
Operation Symmetry, a joint operation between DPI and NSW Police, investigated the illegal trafficking of commercial quantities of abalone from the NSW South Coast to unlicensed Sydney-based abalone receivers.
Following an extended and targeted surveillance operation by fisheries officers from the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group, a 59-year-old man from Mogo NSW was intercepted in the western Sydney suburb of Berala. It will be alleged the man delivered a consignment of illicit abalone to a residence in Berala.
The man’s vehicle was intercepted with the assistance of NSW Police where 439 abalone in the vehicle were seized along with documentation allegedly relating to abalone trafficking.
The man’s vehicle was seized and he was arrested and taken to Auburn Police Station.
DPI Fisheries Investigators executed a search warrant on the house at Berala and seized 2870 alleged illegal abalone weighing approximately 300 kilograms. Fisheries officers also located and seized 40 kilograms of shark fin. Investigations are continuing.
A 62-year-old man, also the owner of a Western Sydney seafood restaurant, will face a range of charges including trafficking in fish which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
Fisheries officers also conducted a raid of the associated seafood restaurant and seized a further quantity of abalone.
It will be alleged that 645 of the 3300 seized abalone were prohibited size. Both men are expected to face court in the near future.
NSW Police Marine Area Command work with DPI to target illegal poaching of marine life and will continue to work closely to detect the trafficking and illegal sale of abalone.
Individuals convicted of trafficking abalone can receive a maximum of 10 years gaol and a fine up to 10 times the market value of the abalone.
The market value of the abalone seized is worth more than $57,000.
If you are offered to purchase cheap abalone or from an unlicensed commercial fisher you could be involved in the trafficking of illegal abalone. The only way to guarantee the quality of abalone is to buy it from a reputable seafood retailer.
Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity is urged to call the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or to provide police with information regarding these incidents call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.