Two men have been convicted of abalone theft, fined $4000 each and placed on good behaviour bonds after being caught stealing 185 abalone following an undercover surveillance operation by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) at Kiama.
DPI Director of Fisheries Compliance Glenn Tritton said the targeted operation took place following a tip-off.
“Fisheries officers and members of the Statewide Operations and Investigations Group acted on information received and established an undercover operation at Kiama Heights in November 2011,” Mr Tritton said.
“Our fisheries officers observed three men diving for approximately four hours and after leaving the water, they then placed a bag of abalone in a tidal pool.
“By using undercover surveillance, fisheries officers were able to observe the men later returning to the tidal pool to retrieve the bag.
“The men were apprehended with the assistance of NSW Police when they returned to a nearby carpark and fisheries officers seized 185 shucked abalone, dive gear and equipment.”
The two men pleaded guilty to four charges of illegal fishing in Kiama Local Court earlier this month.
A third man did not appear in court and the magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest.
"A 20-year-old man from Albion Park and a 24-year-old man from Warilla were both
fined $4000 each and placed on good behaviour bonds,” Mr Tritton said.
“The possession limit for abalone is two per person and it is illegal to take abalone between Botany Bay and Wreck Bay except on weekends and public holidays.
“Abalone in this area is at a dangerously low level and we have limits in place to allow abalone stocks to recover – the limits are also designed to discourage people from taking large quantities for the purpose of illegal sale.
“DPI works hard to encourage responsible fishing and ensure fish stocks remain at a sustainable level so they can be enjoyed by present and future generations.”