Fisheries officers are employed to protect our fisheries and promote responsible fishing and boating. One of their roles is to ensure compliance with fishing regulations.
These regulations are in place to ensure our fisheries resources are sustainable and shared by the Victorian fishing community.
Officers are also authorised to enforce laws pertaining to:
- litter (discarding cigarette butts, fishing tackle, bait and general rubbish)
- marine national parks (illegal fishing activity)
- boating safety (speeding in a vessel, incorrect safety gear)
- use of public land campfires, vehicle use and park and forest regulations)
How will I recognise a Fisheries Officer?
Fisheries Officers wear a uniform and the officer's name and title.
A Fisheries Officer on duty but not in uniform will display official identification when they approach you, which will include an identification card, the VFA badge and the Officer's name.
What can I expect during an inspection?
During a routine fisheries inspection, you can expect a fisheries officer to:
- give you information about your obligations in relation to fishing
- ask you to produce a current fishing licence or permit, or evidence of an exemption
- ask to access your bag, fishing equipment, esky, container, vehicle or vessel for inspection
- measure and count fish in your possession to check compliance with size and bag limits
- if you are in charge of a boat, ask you to produce a boat licence and the required safety equipment for inspection.
What powers do Fisheries Officers have to protect Victorian fisheries?
Fisheries officers can by law:
- stop any water vessel or vehicle to carry out an inspection
- ask for your name and home address
- search any equipment such as baskets, eskies or other containers
- place alleged offenders under arrest
- issue infringement notices
- seize any fish, fishing gear or other equipment, including boats and vehicles, that have been used in an alleged offence or is in the possession of a suspected offender.
What happens if I am detected committing an offence?
If detected or the officers believe you have committed an offence they will:
- explain the nature of the alleged offence
- request your full name and home address
- invite you to participate in an interview
- issue a seizure receipt if any fish, property or documents are seized
- advise you of the likely course of action.
What are the compliance options used by Fisheries Officers?
Options range from providing educational material to prosecutions. Where it is apparent that a breach of the legislation has occurred, the VFA will take the appropriate action depending on the severity of the offence.
Compliance options include:
- verbal and official warnings
- issuing an infringement notice
- cancellation of a licence or permit.
What happens if I don’t comply with a fisheries officer’s directions?
During an inspection or enquiry, an officer may request certain things of you in accordance with their legislative powers.
Failure to comply with a lawful request from an officer may result in you being:
- arrested and conveyed to a police station
- charged and summonsed to appear before a court
- placed under bail conditions.