Enforcement outcomes Q1 2013- 2014
Verbal warnings issued
Official (written) warnings issued
Infringement notices issued
Unlicensed/take for sale
Marine Parks – patrols
Marine parks - inspections
Major compliance operations
Priority 1 – Unlawful take for sale of high-value fish species (including abalone trafficking)
OPERATION VIPER This was a joint agency investigation with the Victoria Police and interstate fisheries agencies regarding suspected interstate trafficking of commercial quantities of abalone and drugs.
This operation involved an interstate extradition of abalone traffickers from South Australia.
INITIATIVES:The online version of the "Buy Safe and Legal Seafood" pamphlet was updated and hard copies of the pamphlet are being distributed.
13FISH messages are now integrated into all of the Fisheries Education activities with community groups and Schools. The 13FISH reporting line was promoted to 4033 students and 1881 members of the public who came through the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre in Q1.
Fisheries Officers attended and presented at the 4x4 Melbourne Show.
COURT PROSECUTION OUTCOMES:
Offenders were caught with 336 abalone in 6 bags divided between 2 vehicles. One offender was convicted and fined $3,000 for possessing a commercial quantity of abalone, taking abalone in a closed season and taking undersized abalone. After being weighed and measured, all of the abalone were returned to the water. All diving and associated equipment was forfeited.Four offenders were convicted and fined for trafficking in a commercial quantity of abalone, for taking more than twice the catch limit for abalone and for giving false and misleading information. The offenders harvested abalone from Victorian waters within their recreational catch limit per trip and accumulated these abalone at their residences. The four were fined $5000, $4000, $5000 and $2500 respectively and all property seized was forfeited, except for the cars of 2 of the offenders. They were also ordered to pay costs and compensation for abalone destroyed and they each received an order prohibiting them from further recreational fishing from 12 months to 5 years
Priority 2 – Accuracy of Catch and effort reporting data including quota fraud
INITIATIVES: Fisheries officers conducted 38 abalone licence inspections and 57 Rock Lobster access licence inspections in Q1.
The education program has continued, targeting commercial fishers to ensure they know how to properly complete their catch and effort returns.
New entrant testing process commenced. This involves Commercial fishers sitting for a new entrant test to assess their ability to accurately complete and submit catch and effort returns.
OPERATION RICOCHETThis operation involved inspections of Port Phillip bay commercial access licence holders. Four offences were detected and one additional matter discovered that is subject to an ongoing investigation.
Priority 3 – Policing non-compliance hotspots
INITIATIVES: Facebook and twitter were utilised to post articles before and after major compliance operations.
Operation Outreach visited schools in Shepparton, Bendigo, Morwell and Traralgon from 7 May to 20 September 2013.
OPERATION ENDORSE This operation targeted the Salmonid opening from 6 – 8 September 2013
COURT PROSECUTION OUTCOMES One offender was convicted and charged for exceed the catch limit for salmonids and for using trout ova as a bait or berley and for aggravated littering. He was fined $2500 and all seized fishing gear was forfeited and destroyed.
Another offender was charged with similar offences – exceeding the catch limit for salmonids, using trout ova as a bait or berley and aggravated littering. He was found to be in possession of 30 fresh Rainbow trout of various lengths, which was six times the daily bag limit of five trout. He was fined $2500.
An offender was found taking abalone from the intertidal zone, possessing undersized wrasse and obstructing and authorised officer.
Three offenders were convicted for taking more than twice the catch limit of abalone, hindering an officer and giving false and misleading information. They were fined $2000, $3000 and $3000 respectively and all equipment was forfeited. The main offender had his vehicle forfeited and was prohibited from taking abalone for 10 years.
An offender was convicted and sentenced to a 2 month term of imprisonment and fined $2500 for taking more than twice the catch limit, taking during a closed season, taking undersized abalone, failing to carry an abalone measure, using a tool other than an abalone tool and taking marine invertebrates from the Port phillip bay intertidal zone.
Core business priorities
Increasing fisheries patrols outside of normal business hours
The analysis of general compliance trends and recreational fishing research over the last three years reveals that a majority of fishing activity occurs outside of normal business hours.
Similarly, weekends and public holidays account for a majority of offences committed. It is important, therefore, that education and enforcement resources are adequately deployed during these peak times.
In Quarter 1, officers worked a total of 1255 shifts outside normal hours (equating to approximately 20% of an officer's time).
Maintaining community confidence
Fisheries education and enforcement staff attended the following events to actively maintain community confidence and engagement:
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Stakeholder meeting
Goulburn fish festival
Bi-annual meeting with Traralgon Angling clubs
Warrnambool angling club meeting
Fish releases at Lake Pertobe, Merri River, Moyne River, Hopkins River, Tea Tree lake.
Policing fishing offences in Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries
In Quarter 1, fisheries officers conducted 36 boat based patrols and 160 land based patrols in Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries