An illegal haul of abalone, nearly nine times the daily bag limit, has been seized at Port Fairy.
On Friday, a call to 13FISH helped Fisheries Officers at Port Fairy apprehend two men from Point Cook allegedly in possession of 89 abalone, 88 of which were undersize.
Victorian Fisheries Authority State Manager Operations Paul Shea said abalone are popular with recreational divers for their eating qualities and support a commercial fishery that is strictly managed with quotas, second in value only to rock lobster.
“The vast majority of fishers do the right thing by fishing responsibly and sustainably, including staying within catch limits,” Mr Shea said.
“Fisheries Officers observed the two men take the 89 abalone in Lighthouse Bay, then seized the catch and snorkeling gear a short time later.
“The pair will be charged with taking undersize abalone, exceeding the catch limit, taking abalone from the intertidal zone and using a sharp instrument. They face penalties of up to $40,000 and 18 months imprisonment, or both.
“In a separate incident on Thursday night at Port Fairy, another phone call from a member of the public helped officers apprehend three men and a female from Sunshine in possession of 58 abalone, 54 of which were undersize.
“The abalone were seized, and the four people will receive infringements notices of more than $1000 each.
Mr Shea said some their best intelligence on illegal fishing came from the public via the 13FISH (13 34 74) number, which was monitored 24 hours a day by trained staff.
“Callers can remain anonymous and even if Fisheries Officers can’t respond immediately in the field, the information provided is valuable and contributes to planning future patrol and operations.”