Net fishing turns into expensive lesson
IF YOU think that illegal net fishing is no big deal, you may be about to be tangled up in a very expensive process.
The warning comes from NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries on the North Coast as they successfully prosecuted a commercial fisherman from Iluka over seven illegal fishing offences in two years.
And the cost to him? More than $18,000 in fines and professional fees.
NSW DPI director of Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully said all matters in relation to the offences were heard in court on 10 April 2019, with the offender convicted of all charges.
"This offender has incurred significant penalties related to the illegal use of nets in the waters of the lower Clarence River on two separate occasions in 2017 and 2018," Mr Tully said.
"In November 2017, the offender failed to stop his vehicle when requested by Fisheries Officers who then pursued him to his residence where they found him to be in possession of an illegal net and a number of fish taken illegally by that net.
"Then in April 2018, the offender was found using a net by illegal methods.
"On both occasions the nets and illegally taken fish were seized by DPI Fisheries Officers."
The man, a repeat offender, was convicted on all six fishing-related offences and one of obstructing fisheries officers. He was also required to pay the Department's professional costs.
Mr Tully said the recent outcomes should serve as a warning to other would-be offenders, that illegal fishers will be caught and prosecuted.
"Commercial fishing in NSW is regulated for a reason," Mr Tully said.
"There are plenty of hardworking commercial fishers in NSW who do the right thing every day, but illegal fishing threatens the whole industry.
"It ultimately hampers the proper management of our fish stocks and jeopardises the sustainability of these irreplaceable fisheries resources for future generations."
Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity is urged to contact their local DPI Fisheries office, call the Fisher Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or report illegal fishing activities online.