A man’s Toyota and diving equipment were seized by fishing officers after he was found carrying what they suspect was an illegal haul of abalone.
On Monday Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) announced charges would also be laid, and released an image showing the large haul of abalone it had seized lined up on the ground. The incident occurred on February 22 after the diver, who had been carrying a speargun, was apprehended at Green Point near the metropolitan suburb of Brighton.
Officers confiscated 460 of the highly prized shellfish, 92 times over the daily bag of five per person. They allege 420 of the abalone he possessed was under the legal size limit.
VFA’s director of enforcement Ian Parks said backup was called before the abalone was seized. “The man proceeded to allegedly place the large catch bag of abalone into the boot of his Toyota and was intercepted as he attempted to leave the car park,” he said.
What can abalone earn divers on the black market?
It’s the second recent seizure of abalone by state authorities at Green Point in Melbourne. In a separate incident on New Year’s Eve, two men were apprehended after they were found with 311 abalone hidden in wetsuits.
In both incidents all abalone were released back into the water, however the species are known to be fragile so it is unlikely all will survive.
Abalone can fetch $70 per kilogram on the black market, but the price legitimate divers received from buyers is much higher at $120. To ensure stocks remain healthy, Victoria has some of the harshest penalties for abalone poaching in the country, including up to 10 years' jail for illegally harvesting a commercial quantity.
Victoria has a 24-hour fisheries hotline, and anyone who suspects or witnesses illegal activity is urged to call 13FISH (133 474).
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