Enforcement outcomes Q1 2014-2015
Numbers of Fisheries inspections undertaken
Fisheries Officers conducted over 8000 inspections during the period 1 July 2014 – 30 September 2014 (Quarter 1).
|Fishing Sector||Inspections conducted||Offenders Detected||Verbal Warnings Issued||Official (Written) Warnings Issued||Infringement Notices Issued||Briefs Written|
|Unlicensed / Take For Sale||NA||8||0||1||0||2|
|Marine Park Inspections||94||25||6||9||20||1|
Major Compliance and Preventative operations
Priority - detect, investigate, disrupt and dismantle the black market in high value fish species including serious organised fisheries criminal activity
Operations Quantum was the primary focus operation for this quarter and resulted in the successful investigation into a crime syndicate involved in taking abalone, rock lobster and other molluscs from coastal waters and transporting them to Melbourne to sell on the black market. Operation Quantum was a joint operation with Victoria Police involving 75 DEDJTR officers and months of planning.
Court prosecution outcomes
A number of offenders (commercial retailers) were convicted and fined amounts ranging from $1500 - $5000 for the take for sale of recreationally caught fish which were laundered through a commercial retailer.
There were a number of successful court prosecutions involving the take of large numbers of abalone:
- Two offenders were fined $1500 and equipment was forfeited for the taking of 80 abalone of which 40 were undersized.
- Three offenders were fined $750 and equipment was forfeited for the taking of 64 abalone.
- One offender was fined $4000 with conviction for the taking of 222 abalone. In the same incident an offender was ordered to pay a good behaviour bond of $2000.
- Two offenders were fined $2500 and $500 respectively for the taking of 81 abalone (78 were undersized) and 131 blue mussels.
- An offender was fined $1200, ordered to pay further compensation of $857 and was prohibited from further fishing for 2 years for the taking of 134 abalone back in 2012. The offender had failed to appear previously and was arrested on warrant by police and brought before the court.
- An offender was charged $1200 without conviction and a vehicle was seized for the taking of 200 abalone.
- An offender was fined $5000 with conviction, a vehicle was seized, further costs were imposed and they received a 5 year prohibition order for the taking of 293 abalone of which 255 were undersized.
- An offender was sentenced to a 2 year undertaking of good behaviour and ordered to pay $1900 into the court fund for the taking of 59 abalone, 40 of which were undersized.
An offender was convicted and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, 12 months community correction order, 100 hours community work and a 10 year ban on catching abalone for being in possession of 312 shucked abalone, with a search warrant locating a further 208 shucked abalone at his residence.
An offender with a significant history with Fisheries Victoria was convicted and sentenced to 4 months imprisonment wholly suspended for the maximum period of 2 years. He was prohibited from catching further abalone for 10 years and received a $2000 fine and costs for the taking of undersized abalone.
An offender was fined $1200 without conviction and was given a 12 month ban from undertaking recreational fishing for taking 37 snapper and concealing 21 that were undersized.
Priority – Ensure the accuracy of catch and effort reporting in commercial licence and permit holders, and detect and prevent quota fraud
- Operations Precept continued in this quarter and involved investigations into the false reporting of catch and effort data.
- Operations Relegate concluded this quarter with charges filed against a number of commercial fishers relating to the alleged submission of false and misleading information on catch and effort returns. A fish wholesaler was also charged with creating false documents and submitting false information allegedly in an attempt to obstruct the investigation.
- Gippsland region have concentrated efforts into inspecting Commercial Abalone, Rock Lobster and Corner Inlet Commercial fishing operations.
- Barwon South West region officers inspected Central Zone commercial abalone divers at sea, in transit and on landing over a 4 day period. Compliance levels improved over the period.Court Prosecution Outcomes
Court Prosecution Outcomes
A commercial fisher was successfully prosecuted for falsifying catch and effort returns in an attempt to obstruct an investigation by fisheries officers into fish retailer who laundered recreationally caught fish for sale (see first prosecution outcome in Priority 1).
Priority – Police peak periods and locations of concentrated non-compliance and high-volume activity
Operation Accolade continued with the inspection of Southern Bluefin Tuna anglers in Warrnambool and Portland.
Targeting of the Intertidal zone through September in the Barwon South West region led to a massive increase in the detection of offenders collecting abalone and other molluscs.
Court Prosecution Outcomes
One offender was placed on a community order with no conviction for taking bait (yabbies) for sale without a licence.
An offender was found guilty and with conviction and was sentenced to a penalty of $2450 for taking 55 abalone (51 undersize) and 20 sea urchins from the intertidal zone in Port Phillip Bay.
There were a number of successful court prosecutions relating to taking abalone from the Port Phillip Bay intertidal zone:
- one offender was sentenced to pay an aggregate fine of $1200 with no conviction for taking 66 abalone (45 undersized) during a closed season.
- An offender was convicted and fined $3000 for taking 76 abalone (69 undersize).
- Two offenders were fined $4000 and sentenced to 45 days imprisonment wholly suspended for 12 months for taking 95 abalone (87 undersize).
Other core business priorities
Maintaining Community Confidence
During Q1, the Fisheries Victoria community and schools education program achieved the following:
- Ongoing delivery of the Educating for Compliance schools program to 3144 children from 48 schools. The student origin of these schools was 36% from Melbourne schools and 54% from Regional schools.
- Education staff attended an event that focused on children from migrant communities. At this event responsible fishing messages were distributed to 240 children.
- 1725 children and their carers attended the school holiday program at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre in Queenscliff.
- Education staff attended the Melbourne Aquarium careers day with over 100 participants.
- Attendance at the Braybrook College Year 7 Environment day involving four workshops held for over 240 students.
- Successful launch of the Indigenous Fishing practices posters. This project was undertaken as part of Fisheries Victoria's Aboriginal fishing strategy and was jointly funded by DEDJTR, FRDC and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.
- English as a second language students from North Geelong Secondary college attended the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre to learn more about the range of careers available for those interested in working in the marine environment.
Fisheries officers also attended a number of events during Q1:
- Ballarat and District angling association kids fishing day
- 4x4 show in Melbourne
- Statewide recreational fishing forum
- Burmese migrant community water safety day
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. Fisheries Victoria aims to ensure that at least 25% of an officer's duty time is rostered outside of business hours.
In Quarter 1, Fisheries Officers worked 1219 shifts outside normal business hours which equates to approximately 19.36% of an officer's time. This is slightly down on the target of 25% due to current fisheries officer vacancies.
Policing unlawful fishing in marine national parks and marine sanctuaries
In Quarter 1, fisheries officers conducted 374 patrols in Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries, resulting in 94 inspections.
Due to an apparent increase in Marine National Park offending in the last financial year, there has been a greater focus on Marine National Park patrols in this quarter in the Port Phillip region.
Court prosecution outcomes
One offender was fined $750 and was forced to forfeit $1000 of fishing equipment for attempting to take fish from a Marine National Park.