COMMERCIAL fishers are being warned to adhere to strict fish size limits and licence conditions or face the consequences after skippers of two commercial fishing trawlers were fined over $7,500 for illegal fishing offences detected in Sydney.
Department of Primary Industries, Director of Fisheries Compliance, Mr Glenn Tritton, said in one case the skipper of a South Coast based trawler was fined $4,000 plus placed on a good behaviour bond by Milton Local Court for selling prohibited size fish.
“Fisheries officers inspected the catch of a 49 year old man from Ulladulla in Sydney in December 2012, after they suspected the majority of the fish were undersized,” Mr Tritton said.
“On inspection it was estimated that 90 per cent of the 1,115 kilograms of silver trevally for sale were of a prohibited size.”
The fish were seized by fisheries officers and donated to Oz Harvest Food Rescue, a charity which collects food that would otherwise be discarded and distributes it to the disadvantaged.
Mr Tritton said in a separate matter a 54 year old man from Dee Why was fined $3,650 by the Downing Centre Local Court after he was found in possession of prohibited size and mutilated fish.
“An inspection by fisheries officers of the trawlers catch revealed a large quantity of prohibited sized flathead and a bag of flathead fillets,” he said.
“The skipper was apprehended on board the fish trawler just inside the heads of Sydney Harbour as it returned from fishing in ocean waters.
“The skipper of the vessel made admissions to possessing 151 prohibited sized blue spot and tiger flathead and mutilating (filleting at sea) a further 113 flathead (226 fillets).
“Fisheries officers suspected that the flathead were of a prohibited size before they had been filleted.
“The whole catch for that fishing trip was seized, totalling 151 prohibited sized flathead, 226 individual flathead fillets, 790 kilograms of whole legal size flathead, 433 kilograms of school whiting and 272 kilograms of mixed fish, molluscs and crustaceans.”
Mr Tritton said that fishers must adhere to the rules and regulations or pay the consequences.
“The retention of prohibited size fish and the filleting of fish at sea that are subject to a size limit will not be tolerated,” Mr Tritton said.
“Minimum size limits have been put in place to allow fish to reach a size where they can breed and taking fish before they have reached this size can reduce our fish stocks for future generations.
“Any fish that is caught in NSW that is of a prohibited size must be returned to the water immediately.
“Fisheries officers will continue to bring fishers who ignore the rules before the courts to face severe penalties.”
The NSW fishing regulations can be found online at www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au