Alleged fish fraudsters netted in Gippsland
30 June 2017
Two Gippsland men are facing significant charges after allegedly posing as licensed commercial fishers and selling their catches.
Fisheries Victoria Officers, with the help of Victoria Police, yesterday executed search warrants on two residences, one in Nowa Nowa and the other in Lakes Entrance. The searches ended a five month investigation.
It will be alleged the two men conspired to use mesh nets covertly, in local East Gippsland estuarine waters and then posed as licensed commercial operators to consign the fish for sale.
They were arrested, interviewed then released and are expected to be charged and summonsed to appear in court at a later date.
Acting Eastern Regional Fisheries Supervisor, Bill McCarthy said it's likely the men will be charged with the indictable offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment.
"Other charges will relate to the unauthorised taking of fish for sale, the unlicensed possession and use of commercial fishing equipment, use of commercial fishing equipment to take more fish than the catch limit and selling fish taken illegally," Mr McCarthy said.
"These charges carry maximum penalties of up to $31,092 and or six months' jail."
The officers also seized two vehicles, a small boat, a box trailer, a large quantity of mesh nets, fish bins, a quantity of finfish and documents.
"This type of offending impacts on the availability of fish for legitimate commercial and recreational fishers" Mr McCarthy said.
"There are also human health issues associated with the unregulated handling of fish that have been put into the market place illegally.
"The licensed commercial fisheries sector is strictly regulated by means of quotas, equipment and location restrictions. Licensed operators are required to submit catch and effort returns to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries resource.
"This type of allegedly organised illegal fishing activity undermines the sustainability of Victorian fisheries resources."
Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity is urged to call the 24 hour reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474).
Categorised under: Fisheries