Commercial fishing bust at Gunbower Creek

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DPI Victoria .
Following the discovery of commercial fishing equipment in Gunbower Creek, a Cohuna man has been apprehended.

The apprehension followed the detection of cord drum nets by Fisheries Officers from theDepartment of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), who then initiated a surveillance operation.Regional Fisheries Officer Mike Hosking, said Fisheries Officers first came across the commercialfishing equipment during a routine patrol of the creek.

'We also undertook a search of a shed at the man’s property which revealed another five cord drum nets, which were also seized,' Mr Hosking said.The man was interviewed and will be charged on summons to appear in court in relation to the alleged use and possession of commercial fishing equipment.

'The use of cord drum nets and similar commercial equipment is a significant threat to aquaticwildlife including diving birds and turtles,' Mr Hosking said. 'Individuals who participate in these types of activities, or possess commercial fishing equipment without appropriate authority, face heavy fines and penalties.'

DEPI’s uniformed and plain-clothed fisheries officers regularly patrol Victoria’s inland lakes, rivers and creeks to ensure compliance with recreational catch limits, legal equipment and regulations. Mr Hosking said enforcement of the regulations ensured the protection and long-term viability of Victoria’s fish stocks.

'Bag limit and size limits apply to many fish species in our local waters and anglers areencouraged to check the 2013 Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide for the relevant information —available on the DEPI website or in hardcopy for free from most tackle stores,' he said.'A mobile phone application detailing the rules and regulations is also available, again at no charge.'

The maximum penalty for using commercial fishing equipment is in excess of $14000 or 6 months imprisonment or both, the maximum penalty for possessing commercial fishing equipment is $5600.

Additionally, any equipment such as a boat or vehicle used to carry out an offence may also be seized and later forfeited in a court of law.Members of the public are encouraged to report suspected illegal activities to the 24 hour fisheries offence reporting line,13-FISH (13 3474).