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Thirty times over the limit: Massive abalone haul seized

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says a recent surveillance operation on the state’s south coast has led to the apprehension of four offenders found in possession of more than thirty times the normal bag limit of Blacklip Abalone.

Above: the seized abalone and diving gear

The DPI Fisheries operation, with the assistance of NSW Police, was conducted between Bawley Point and Kioloa on the 8th May 2018. DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said the four males allegedly took the haul of abalone near Shell Point, near Ulladulla. “The offenders were in possession of 261 abalone - more than thirty times the normal bag limit of two abalone per person, per day,” Mr Tully said. Three of the alleged offenders are juveniles, and all may face the Children’s court once Fisheries Officers finalise their investigation and consider charges. Officers were forced to retain the 261 abalone as evidence after the alleged offenders had shucked the abalone, killing them instantly. The men’s diving gear was also seized. “The adult man was also recently apprehended on 15 March 2018 where he was allegedly in possession of 365 abalone (all shucked but one) with three others. A prosecution brief is being prepared for that matter,” Mr Tully said. “Abalone is not only listed as a priority species but an indictable species. The maximum penalty for a person who trafficks in an indictable species of fish is 10 years imprisonment,” Mr Tully said. “There are also maximum penalties of $44,000 for possession of fish in circumstances of aggravation and penalties of $5,500 per person for illegally shucking abalone.” New rules have applied for the commercial abalone fishery since December 2017. Abalone are commercially harvested from rocky reefs by divers, mostly on the South Coast of NSW. Commercial fishing of the species is controlled through a strict quota management system. Commercial fishers must report the validated weight of the abalone they take using the FisherMobile app on a mobile device within 30 minutes and 50 metres from the point of landing. Illegal abalone fishing and sale threatens legitimate industries, recreational and cultural use and poses a serious health risk to consumers. People who buy illegal abalone can also be exposed to huge fines and imprisonment. Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity is urged to contact their local DPI fisheries office, call the Fisher Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or report illegal fishing activities online. For more information visit the DPI website. Media Release

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