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Shellfish busts at Cape Schanck and Kennett River

by Nick Foster 5 Jan 03:45 UTC
Abalone © Jane Rawson

Two men and a woman from Werribee were arrested by Fisheries Officers at Cape Schanck last night for allegedly taking more than 1,100 shellfish from the intertidal zone.

Victorian Fisheries Authority Director of Education and Enforcement, Ian Parks, said the trio will be charged on summons with a range of abalone and shellfish offences. "Fisheries Officers seized their 2012 Ford Territory on the spot along and all dive equipment, having discovered the illegal haul of 423 periwinkles, 539 dog whelks and 204 abalone, 195 of which were allegedly undersize," Mr Parks said.

"Two Officers on patrol came across the three people acting suspiciously in the Cape Schanck car park. The female allegedly attempted to conceal a backpack in the bushes, which was later found to contain 70 abalone. One of the men ran away as Officers introduced themselves while the other man allegedly tried to distract Officers and prevent them from inspecting the car."

"The female allegedly further hindered Officers by attempting to conceal bags of abalone and shellfish that had been removed from the car by Officers. The man who'd earlier run away eventually returned, having been convinced by repeated calls from his male companion." Mr Parks said the trio faced penalties of up to $79,000 in fines, 5 years imprisonment, forfeiture of the car and lengthy fishing prohibition orders if convicted.

In a separate incident on Christmas Day, near Kennett River on the Great Ocean Road, Fisheries Officers apprehended three male divers allegedly with 17 undersize abalone. Officers intercepted the pair at their parked car at Dog Beach, as a third man made his way up from the beach. Upon being alerted to the presence of Fisheries Officers by the two men, the third man allegedly tried to conceal his catch in beachside vegetation.

Inspections of their catch revealed 19 abalone, 17 of which were allegedly under the legal minimum size of 12cm for that area. Three infringement notices were issued totalling $1,745. Mr Parks said shellfish form an integral part of our marine ecosystem and Fisheries Officers would continue to tackle illegal harvest, whether it be undersize abalone or bigger hauls of more than 1,100 shellfish.

Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing is urged to call Fisheries' 24-hour reporting line, 13FISH (133474). You can remain anonymous.

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