25 Jan 2019
Additional fisheries officers will be patrolling the Illawarra region this long weekend as the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) cracks down on illegal fishing and ramps up its compliance education efforts.
NSW DPI Acting Director of Fisheries Compliance, Tony Chen, said the additional patrols will target illegal fishing hotspots at peak times.
“It appears that some fishers are not getting the message when it comes to following the rules, particularly the collection of shellfish such as cockles and whelks,” Mr Chen said.
“If you want to collect these shellfish, you need a fishing licence and you need to know the bag and size limits. You can check all of this information on the DPI’s free FishSmart app.”
During patrols conducted between 20 December 2018 to 21 January 2019 in the Illawarra region, a total of 7,323 illegally harvested cockles were seized which resulted in 30 penalty notices ($9,300) and 126 written warnings.
Mr Chen said that despite these figures, records from the 619 inspections during this period show that the majority of fishers are collecting shellfish in a sustainable and lawful manner.
“We know that the majority of fishers are doing the right thing. These extra patrols will not only help our compliance efforts, they will also offer an opportunity to educate fishers about the rules and regulations we have in place to protect our fish stocks.
“It’s important that community members don’t try to take matters into their own hands by conducting unauthorised inspections of other fishers’ catch. Instead, community members who would like to report a suspected offence are encouraged to report illegal activity to the Fishers Watch hotline 1800 043 536 or via the NSW DPI website.
“Offences involving collecting from protected areas and exceeding bag limits are deemed serious by the Department and can carry serious consequences including monetary penalty and custodial sentences.”