Poachers netted

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OPERATION Trinity – in which Fisheries Victoria officers patrolled peninsula and bayside beaches over summer targeting shellfish offences in the intertidal zone – has netted a number of offenders.

One hundred and seventy two inspections detected 41 offences. These resulted in 25 verbal warnings, 11 official warnings and 28 infringement notices. Four court orders were issued.

Fisheries Victoria executive director Travis Dowling said the pending court cases related to the illegal taking of abalone. “Several instances involved alleged offenders taking more than 40 abalone – when the bag limit is five per person.

“Three cases involved individuals taking more than 70 abalone – and two with more than 120.

“This is a serious concern to Fisheries Victoria. If found guilty, they face imprisonment, fines of up to $75,000, forfeiture of items as well as being banned from fishing.”         

Mr Dowling said the January to March operation was held over weekends at fishing spots, including Mornington, Cowes and the Western Port and Port Phillip beaches.

He said the peninsula is particularly vulnerable to predation since Peninsula Link gave faster and easier access to reef areas, he said.

“Fisheries officers targeted the intertidal zone which is defined as the area starting on the beach at the maximum high water mark to a point where the water is two metres deep at any time.

Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity can call the 24-hour fisheries offence reporting line 133 474.

First published in the Western Port News – 5 May 2015

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