Fisheries hook offenders over illegal fish hauls

Bream, snapper, flathead and trevally seized. Picture: NSWDPI
Bream, snapper, flathead and trevally seized. Picture: NSWDPI

People have been caught nabbing illegal fish in waters across St George and Sutherland Shire.

Following a focus on prohibited size fish offences across the state since March 2018, NSW Department of Primary Industries officers seized 5379 illegally harvested fish and shellfish during state-wide 'Operation Small Fry.'

A total of 1350 offences were detected with $102,500 worth of on-the-spot fines handed out to those caught possessing or selling prohibited size fish.

Twenty six others will, or already have faced the courts for serious offences involving prohibited size fish.

Seized kingfish. Picture: NSWDPI

Seized kingfish. Picture: NSWDPI

There were 30 offences at Kyeemagh (the highest in St George), 28 at Port Botany, 25 at Kurnell and 22 in La Perouse.

More fishermen than women were penalised, with 30-34 year-olds the most over-represented group.

Whiting, snapper, bream, tarwhine and kingfish were the fish species most commonly involved.

Turban snails, abalone, crabs and lobsters were the most common invertebrates seized.

A fisheries officer measures crabs. Picture: NSWDPI

A fisheries officer measures crabs. Picture: NSWDPI

Fisheries compliance director, Patrick Tully, thanks the community for bringing the offenders to notice.

"Reports to Fishers Watch have grown year on year, doubling since 2013, with people now able to report to DPI through a smartphone and the free FishSmart NSW app," he said.

"We've learnt a lot through Operation Small Fry and continuing to reduce the prevalence of prohibited size fish offences in NSW will remain an enduring priority for us.

"We'll be re-focusing our efforts on these problem areas later in the year through another state-wide operation tentatively named Operation Bigger Fish."

Anyone spotting illegal fishing activity should report it to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the free FishSmart NSW app available from the App Store or Google Play. People can also report online.