Enforcement outcomes Q4 2014-2015
Numbers of fisheries inspections undertaken
Fisheries Officers conducted over 10,430 inspections during the period between 1 April 2015 – 30 June 2015 (Quarter 4).
Table detailing the number of inspections and enforcement outcomes summarised by fishing sector.
|Verbal warnings issued
|Official warnings issued
|Infringement notices issued
|Unlicensed/Take for sale
|Marine parks – Inspections
Major enforcement and preventative operations
Priority 1 – Unlawful take for sale of high-value fish species (including abalone trafficking)
- Operation gem resulted in the arrest of two offenders who were illegally taking abalone from Gippsland and selling into commercial premises in Melbourne.
- Operation quantum continued – focusing on the trafficking of multiple species.
- Operation endorse concluded. This operation focussed on detecting and apprehending persons targeting Murray Cod with commercial fishing equipment. The outcomes from this operation include over 200 public extension contacts at the Goulburn Fish Festival, 194 land based inspections, 40 boat based inspections, six verbal warnings, six official warnings, eight infringement notices, two seizures of equipment and a total of 20 offenders.
Targeted patrol activity
Fisheries officers continued with planned targeted patrols in high risk and remote areas. A number of 13FISH calls relating to abalone thieves also resulted in targeted patrols.
- Fisheries Education continues to identify new seafood retailers and wholesalers to add to the ongoing distribution list for the Buy Safe and Legal Seafood pamphlet. An electronic version of the pamphlet is now available on the department website.
- The education unit attended 12 events to promote the "safe and legal" message to the public.
- Queenscliff fisheries officers conducted visits to Geelong area sushi restaurants to reinforce the "safe and Legal" message.
Court prosecution outcomes
- An offender was found to be in breach of a court order which prohibited him from possessing recreational fishing equipment.
- Another offender was charged for selling abalone without being authorised to do so and fined $2000. All seized property was forfeited and he was prohibited from catching any abalone for a period of two years.
- A repeat offender was prosecuted for taking abalone from the Intertidal zone and was fined $3000. A similar case resulted in a repeat offender being fined $1500.
- A 13FISH call resulted in the successful prosecution of an offender who was found with 104 bream – 97 of which were undersized. The offender was convicted and fined $800 plus his seized equipment was forfeited.
- An offender received a community correction order to perform 125 hours of unpaid community work over six months for taking 90 undersized abalone.
- Two offenders were fined an aggregate amount of $3500 for taking undersized abalone and for taking fish in a marine sanctuary without a permit. All items seized from the accused were forfeited. A further two offenders relating to this matter were sentenced to an additional aggregate fine of $3500 and further seized items were forfeited.
- An offender was fined $4000 as part of an aggregate order for taking 109 abalone from the blackrock area. All seized property was to be forfeited and destroyed.
- Two offenders were convicted and fined $750 each plus court costs for setting commercial fishing equipment (yabby pots) and for targeting the priority species Murray Cod. One of the men was also fishing without a recreational fishing licence. The boat, trailer, outboard and associated fishing equipment were confiscated and both men received orders prohibiting them from engaging in recreational fishing for eight months.
Priority 2 – Accuracy of catch and effort reporting data including quota fraud
Operation relegate continued in this quarter to target alleged catch and effort misreporting in the commercial fishery. This operation has resulted in two briefs of evidence being submitted to the department's prosecutors alleging the false reporting of catch and effort data.
Targeted patrol activity
- In the east of the state, officers have identified offences relating to log book entries during on-water inspections of fishers. Inspections have also been undertaken of eel and Gippsland lakes commercial fisheries.
- Throughout the state targeted inspections of rock lobster and abalone commercial fishers have taken place to check reporting accuracy and compliance with reporting obligations.
Fisheries Officers continue to meet with commercial fishers in their area to go through record keeping requirements. The new-entrant testing process continues for new fishers to assess their knowledge of the fishing rules, including the ability to accurately complete and submit catch and effort returns.
Priority 3 – Policing non-compliance hotspots
- Operation equate continued with targeting of the intertidal zone at locations in Victoria.
- Operation SBT was a joint operation between The Victorian Fisheries Authority and Victoria Police involving at sea and landing inspections of anglers targeting Southern Bluefin Tuna and Albacore.
- Operation accolade was held at Portland over the June long weekend involving fisheries officers from Ballarat, Queenscliff, Warrnambool, Portland and Wodonga assisting with the inspection of 170 Southern Bluefin Tuna anglers.
Targeted patrol activity
- 200 Southern Bluefin Tuna anglers were inspected in May/June at Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. Overall compliance was found to be very good apart from a number of minor offences detected involving species other than Southern Bluefin tuna.
- A Polaris patrol vehicle has been used to maintain a high profile compliance presence throughout the winter period in the Yarram/Venus Bay region.
- Fisheries officers attended the "Tour de Tarwin" event on Easter Saturday with an emphasis on pipi education.
- Mallacoota officers provided stakeholder education on exceeding catch/possession limits in eastern inlets for Dusky flathead and bream.
Court prosecution outcomes
- An offender was prosecuted for taking above the allowable limit of pipis at Venus Bay and was fined $500.
- There have been a number of successful court prosecutions relating to taking more than the catch limit of snapper and for concealing fish. Offenders have been fined between $1500 and $4000.
Core business priorities
Maintaining community confidence
During Quarter 4, The Victorian Fisheries Authority education group achieved the following:
- Ongoing delivery of the Educating for Compliance schools program to 3740 children from 59 schools.
- Delivery of the Educating for Compliance community education program to 935 general community through 15 activities including at-risk community engagement activities, community events and school outreach visits.
- 1213 members of the general community participated in school holiday programs fun through the Marine & Freshwater Discovery Centre.
- Two professional development sessions were held for English as a Second Language teachers.
- In Portland, three presentations were given to local service clubs and schools.
- Ballarat officers attended the Ballarat District Angling Association meeting.
- Ballarat officers have been involved in the design and production of special net tags and signage to raise awareness of the commercial eel fishery.
- Apollo Bay officers presented to the Apollo Bay fishing group.
- Central officers conducted presentations to Victoria Police and a secondary school group.
- Officers attended and presented at Eastern Zone and Western Zone Rock Lobster Quota forums at Queenscliff and Warrnambool.
- 13Fish information (including stickers and cards) was given to 5888 people.
Increasing fisheries patrols outside of normal business hours
In Quarter 4, Fisheries Officers worked 1528 shifts outside normal business hours which equates to approximately 24.3 per cent of an officer's time.
Policing fishing offences in marine national parks and sanctuaries
- In Quarter 4, fisheries officers conducted 335 patrols in marine national parks and sanctuaries, resulting in 85 inspections.
- Targeted night time patrols of a number of marine national parks and sanctuaries has led to disruption of potential illegal rock lobster fishing activities.
Education about Marine Parks and Sanctuaries is delivered as part of the Educating for Compliance schools program and community programs. Queenscliff officers participated in a national ABC television presentation on marine national parks.
Find out more about 13FISH statistics for this quarter.