Restaurants in Central West NSW caught up in fishy business

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Illegal abalone. Image: NSW DPI - Fisheries

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says its fisheries officers are cracking down on the possession and sale of recreationally caught fish, conducting 47 routine inspections over the past few weeks.

In one incident, 41 abalone weighing 2.8 kilograms were seized from a restaurant near Lithgow. Abalone are a priority and indictable species under the Fisheries Management Act 1994, and it is illegal for restaurants to buy, sell or possess abalone not legally grown via aquaculture or caught by appropriately licensed commercial fishers. In a second matter, a restaurant in Dubbo was also found in possession of a 46cm prohibited sized Murray Cod and issued with a penalty notice.

Individuals can face fines of up to $22,000 for a first offence and $44,000 for any second or subsequent offence. Businesses can face fines of up to $110, 000 for a first offence and $220, 000 for any second or subsequent offence. Individuals can also face up to 10 years imprisonment if found guilty of trafficking abalone or rock lobster.

NSW DPI says, selling recreationally caught fish is a risk to the resource as well as to public health because it is not subject to the same stringent controls and handling procedures as legitimate commercially harvested fish. Recreationally caught fish cannot be sold under any circumstances.

In a Facebook post, NSW DPI thanked the community support in identifying these illegal operators.

Illegal activity can be reported to the Fisher Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the online Report Illegal Activity Form.

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