by Paul Sellars
A Melbourne couple will be charged, following a report to the 13FISH offence reporting hotline, after being apprehended for allegedly using two illegal commercial fishing nets under the West Gate Bridge last week.
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Fisheries Officers began staking out the site, at the mouth of Stony Creek, after a member of the public alerted them to the fact that commercial fishing equipment was set in the waterway.
Stony Creek runs into the Yarra River just north of the West Gate Bridge.
Acting Senior Fisheries Officer Joshua Hannaford said the call first came in around 2pm on Wednesday afternoon and the officers commenced surveillance of the area a short time later.
At approximately 1am on Thursday a 62-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman were arrested and it is alleged they were trying to retrieve more than 100 metres of mesh nets from the water.
Officer Hannaford said there were two nets that allegedly contained over 100 bream and many of the fish were under the minimum legal size limit of 28cm.
'Commercial fishing of any type is prohibited in this area,' Officer Hannaford said.
'The non-discriminate taking of fish using these type of nets would have a significant impact on future fish resources.'
The nets and equipment were seized and the couple will be charged on summons with using and possessing prohibited commercial fishing equipment.
Further investigations revealed a third commercial net in the possession of one of the alleged offenders, which was subsequently seized along with his white van used during the night.
Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing activity is urged to call the 24-hour fisheries offence reporting line 13 FISH (13 3474).
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