The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has issued a $56,000 fine to six Commonwealth commercial fishermen from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria for conducting various fishing offences.
According to the press release by AFMA, a further 11 Commonwealth fishers across Australia are facing multiple charges of illegal fishing activity, three of whom on the grounds of evading shark quota. This follows increased compliance activity by the AFMA in recent months. AFMA General Manager of Fisheries Operations, Peter Venslovas said the penalties should serve as a reminder that anyone who tries to ignore the rules will be caught and punished.
“AFMA takes illegal fishing very seriously and whilst the vast majority of fishers do the right thing, those few who continue to break the law are in our sights and will get caught,” Mr Venslovas said.
“Those involved in illegal fishing activities and stealing from the Australian community and putting the sustainability of our fisheries and the livelihoods of others at risk.”
AFMA and the state fisheries agencies have been working closely together to stamp out illegal fishing activity in recent times, executing three search warrants in the Port Fairy area on the Victorian West Coast as part of a joint operation with the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries which commenced in December 2013.
A dozen Commonwealth and State officers worked together to produce evidence against suspected illegal fishing activity from a vessel, private residence and also a motor vehicle. Those found guilty of illegal fishing activity or selling black-market fish may face jail terms of up to 10 years and fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for a company, in addition to the forfeiture of the value of the catch and boats.
To report illegal fishing activity or black-market fish supply in your area, contact Rebecca Atkins, AFMA Communications 02 6225 5541 or 0447 942 840 or [email protected].