28 Feb 2019
Two North Coast men have been served court attendance notices after one man was found with a boat containing two meshing nets and both men obstructed a NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Officer while he was attempting to search the vessel.
NSW DPI Acting Program Leader Special Operations, Ms Lee Burdett, said the boat was observed at the Spenser Street Boat Ramp in Iluka, on the NSW North Coast, by a plain clothes Fisheries Officer who saw the illegal meshing nets in the boat.
“Meshing nets are illegal for recreational use, and when questioned by the DPI Fisheries Officer, the man on the boat quickly admitted he was not a commercial fisher,” Ms Burdett said.
“The two nets were 8m x 80mm mesh and 14m x 92mm mesh, which shows they were big enough to catch a lot of fish illegally.
“When the Fisheries Officer produced his identification and began to search the boat, the man then left the area and returned soon afterwards with a male and female.
“The men began to untie the ropes between the boat and the pontoon, despite instructions from the Fisheries Officer. One man then drove off in the boat, stopping the Fisheries Officer from completing the search, and the other male and female left in a car.”
Assistance was sought from NSW Police who were able to respond immediately to assist the Fisheries Officer with the investigations.
“Given the serious nature of the offences and the failure of both men to comply with directions from the DPI Fisheries Officer, the matter has been referred to NSW Police,” Ms Burdett said.
Fisheries Officers have the power to stop and detain a boat, and board and search the boat for fish, fishing gear or any record relating to the fishing activities of the boat, and break open and search any hold or container on the boat that the Officer has reason to believe contains fish, fishing gear or any such record.
A Fisheries Officer may require the master of a boat to assist the fisheries officer to board the boat.
Fisheries Officers also have the power to seize a boat or motor vehicle that the Officer has reason to believe has been used by a person engaged in commercial fishing activities for the purposes of committing a forfeiture offence.
Both men are due to appear in Maclean Local Court on 9 April 2019.
If convicted in court, each of these offences carries a maximum penalty for individuals of $22,000 or 6 months’ imprisonment, or both for a first offence.
Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity are urged to contact their local Fisheries office, call the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or report illegal fishing activities online.
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