13FISH nabs abalone thieves at Port Fairy

17 December 2018

A good Samaritan’s phone call to 13FISH has helped Fisheries Officers apprehend four men allegedly in possession of 80 abalone, half of which were undersize.

The daily catch limit is five abalone per person.

Victorian Fisheries Authority Director of Enforcement and Education Ian Parks said Fisheries Officers from the Warrnambool station responded to the call and inspected the men’s catch, which at the time was six abalone between them.

“Officers asked the foursome if they’d caught any more abalone that day. Their answer was no,” Mr Parks said.

“Officers undertook surveillance of the men, who after visiting the main street of Port Fairy, drove their car to several locations and allegedly retrieved hidden bags of abalone collected earlier that day.

“A short time later, the four men were intercepted by officers on the Princes Highway, where they allegedly tried to escape.

“The men were apprehended and interviewed by officers. All the abalone and dive equipment was seized on the spot.

“The four men will appear in court charged with exceeding the abalone catch limit, taking undersize abalone and hindering authorised officers.

“They face heavy penalties up to $30,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.”

Mr Parks said most abalone divers do the right thing and abide by recreational catch limits which ensure a sustainable fishery that can be enjoyed by all.

Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing can call Fisheries’ 24-hour reporting line 13FISH (133474) anytime. You can remain anonymous. Make the call and make the difference.