'Operation Molten' nets trio of abalone thieves

Department of Environmental Primary Industries
An extensive surveillance operation by fisheries officers has resulted in three men from Melbourne’s outer south-east being fined a total of $8000 for exceeding the daily catch limit for abalone, concealing part of their catch and providing false information to fisheries officers

The three men pleaded guilty in the Frankston Magistrates Court on September 19 to exceeding the catch limit for abalone, providing false and misleading information to fisheries officers and hindering the officers in the course of their duties.

The court heard that as part of 'Operation Molten' the three men were detected taking double their legal entitlement of abalone at two locations on the Mornington Peninsula on March 11.

As part of the operation, the men were observed taking a quantity of abalone from Rye which they placed in a bag and later concealed in bushland at Boneo before taking more abalone at Sorrento. After leaving Sorrento the men travelled back to Boneo where one of them retrieved the bag
concealed in the bush.

Soon after the men were intercepted by Fisheries Officers who found a total of 30 abalone in the mens’ two cars. The legal daily limit for abalone is five per person, meaning collectively the men
had taken double their legal entitlement.

The court heard that after being arrested and taken to the Springvale Police Station, the men also gave false and misleading information while being interviewed.

One of the men was fined $2000, had his vehicle and all other equipment forfeited and was banned from fishing for abalone for 10 years.

The other two men were each fined $3000, had their equipment forfeited and were placed on a prohibition order preventing them from fishing for abalone for one year.

Senior Fisheries Officer Rod Barber said daily catch limits were in place to protect abalone stocks and ignoring those limits threatened the sustainability of the fishery.

Mr Barber said fishers who ignored the limits and provided false information to fisheries officers could expect significant penalties in the form of large fines, the forfeiture of vehicles and equipment
and lengthy fishing bans.

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