Four men have felt the pinch of illegal lobster fishing, charged and fined in two separate South Coast stings as part of a specialised operation carried out by NSW DPI fisheries officers.
In the first sting three men, aged 36, 23 and 21, were charged after they were caught by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Officers trying to conceal their illegal catch in a hidden compartment on their boat.
A DPI spokesperson said specialty fish, particularly shellfish such as lobster, are targeted by illegal fishers due to their high value on the black market.
The men were spotted diving from a boat in waters to the south of Black Head and Gerroa.
When Fisheries Officers conducted a search they found 23 Eastern Rock Lobsters, 17 of which were concealed under the floor of the boat.
The illegal catch could be worth up to $5,000 at market prices.
Two of the 23 caught were also of a prohibited size, so the boat, motor and trailer as well as the dive gear were seized, while 17 of the lobsters were immediately returned to the water alive.
There is a two bag limit for Eastern Rock Lobsters and size limits are also in place for a reason – to ensure our fishing resources remain sustainable into the future.
The trio faced Kiama Court, pleaded guilty, and were fined $2000 each.
In a second sting, not linked to the first, a man was convicted and fined $1350 after Fisheries Officers conducted a covert surveillance operation.
The recreational diver was followed to a hotel in Gerringong, where he sold six Eastern Rock Lobsters in the carpark.
Members of the public are urged to report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling the NSW DPI Fishers Watch service on 1800 043 536.
Photo DPI Fisheries.