A Mercedes, boat, trailer and oversize traps worth over $60,000 have been seized and thousands of dollars in fines issued after an illegal fishing bust in Victoria.
Two men and a woman were ordered to pay a total of $24,000 after they were caught with a 40-metre-long trammel net, a design that is prohibited across the state.
Fisheries officers discovered the net hidden behind bushes at Furnell Landing, a popular picnic and fishing spot south of Mallacoota. It followed a tip-off from the public about suspicious activity. Two coolers containing 100 fish, mostly bream, mullet, perch and flathead were also located nearby.
Furnell Landing is close to the Croajingolong National Park on the state’s remote far-east tip, and is known for its birdwatching, whale migration and inlets.
Victorian Fisheries Authority’s director of enforcement, Ian Parks, said using large nets in the region’s waters could threaten river ecology. “This type of activity has the potential to impact fish stocks when used indiscriminately, particularly in small estuary systems,” he said.
The trio all pleaded guilty to several offences. One man was fined $4000 in December, and the other two offenders, who have convictions for similar offences, were given penalties of $12,000 and $8,000. The pair were also banned from fishing for two years.
“Their Mercedes, boat and trailer were ordered to be forfeited by the magistrate who said it would act as a message to others that if they engage in this type of activity they will be seriously penalised,” Mr Parks said.
The seized fish are being held as evidence and may be used for scientific purposes. Anyone in Victoria who sees illegal or suspicious fishing is urged to report it on 13FISH (133474).
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