Boat seized for illegal whiting haul at St Leonards

03 November 2022

Most recreational fishers do the right thing and abide by catch limits that keep our booming whiting, snapper and calamari fisheries sustainable however three men have been apprehended at St Leonards and had their fibreglass boat seized for allegedly taking more than the daily bag limit of King George whiting.

Director of Education and Enforcement at the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) Ian Parks said the trio were observed retrieving their boat after catching a quantity of whiting, travelling to a nearby house, then relaunching their boat to continue fishing in the same spot.

“The three men returned to the boat ramp in the early evening and were intercepted by Fisheries Officers a short time later, back at the nearby house, where they presented a quantity of whiting for inspection,” Mr Parks said.

“Enquiries saw more whiting produced from the house and confirmed as catch from that day. In total, the three men had allegedly taken 68 whiting over two trips on the same day, with one allegedly catching 38. The daily bag limit for King George whiting is 20 per person.

“All fish, fishing gear and the boat were seized on the spot.

“Recreational fishers are reminded that bag limits are personal, you can’t catch fish on behalf of others, and it is illegal to sell your catch.”

Mr Parks said this apprehension led to a Lygon Street restaurant in Carlton where 25kg of illegitimate King George whiting and 58kg of calamari were allegedly uncovered.

“The whiting and calamari could not be substantiated as commercially sourced product and were seized by Fisheries Officers,” Mr Parks said.

“It will be alleged a document to account for the whiting was falsely created by a seafood wholesaler at the request of the restaurant.

“The proprietor and company associated with the restaurant will face charges relating to the sale of recreationally taken fish, providing false documents and information, and other significant offences under the Fisheries Act. A seafood wholesaler will also face charges relating to the creation of a false document connected to the whiting.”

If you see or suspect illegal fishing, call our 24/7 reporting service, 13FISH (133474), to speak directly to a Fisheries Officer. You can remain anonymous. Make the call and make the difference.