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Officers catch fishers and restaurants red handed

FISHERIES officers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries have continued to crack down on the illegal possession and sale of recreationally caught fish.

NSW DPI Acting Director Fisheries Compliance, Anthony Chen, is reminding recreational fishers and restaurateurs to follow the rules or face the consequences. Mr Chen said the warning follows a number of convictions of fishers and restaurateurs who have been caught red handed.

“An Adamstown restaurant has been fined $15,925 after Hunter District Fisheries officers carried out a restaurant inspection where they found and seized 17 untagged eastern rock lobsters alleged to have come from an illegitimate source. The matter was prosecuted in Newcastle Local Court this month where the restaurateur was convicted and fined for offences relating to the possession and sale of a commercial quantity (17) of black market ERL,” Mr Chen said.

ERL are declared a priority species under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and it is illegal to buy or sell eastern rock lobsters not legally caught by appropriately licensed commercial fishers with NSW DPI lobster tags attached.

“In another matter, two individuals have been fined a total of $27,450 after being caught red handed selling recreationally harvested cockles online,” Mr Chen said. “Investigations by DPI Fisheries officers led to the detection of the cockles, which were harvested in Lake Illawarra and were advertised for sale through social media in the Sydney region.

“The Department and the courts take this type of offending very seriously. Recreationally caught fish cannot be sold under any circumstances. Selling recreationally caught fish is a risk to public health as the seafood is not subject to the same stringent testing and handling procedures as legitimate commercial harvest. These illegal operators just don’t care for their product like our licensed commercial fishers do, all they are concerned about is a quick buck not the quality of their product or the safety of consumers.

“The community is increasingly rejecting all forms of illegal fishing and we thank them for their ongoing support,” said Mr Chen.

If anyone suspects illegal activity in NSW, they should report it to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the online Report Illegal Activity Form.

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