Covert Fisheries' mission catches out illegal eel anglers
TWO commercial fishers caught illegally fishing for longfin eels near Taylors Arm have been fined and had their boat seized by NSW Fisheries.
Fisheries officers undertook covert surveillance of a number of eel traps set upstream of the town in a tributary of the Nambucca River.
Caught in the act, the anglers have now been fined more than $14,000 and had their boat impounded.
Department of Primary Industries Director of Fisheries Compliance Glenn Tritton said fresh and non tidal waters of NSW rivers and creek are closed to eel trapping due to concerns over the impact it has on fragile freshwater ecosystems.
Eel trapping has led to native fauna mortalities, including platypus and freshwater turtles.
"Fisheries officers witnessed two men in February this year retrieving five baited eel traps from the water with the aid of a small aluminium boat," Mr Tritton said.
"On inspection the men had 10 eel traps and 141 live eels in their possession.
"Fisheries officers seized the men's three-metre aluminium boat, the eel traps and the eels, which were returned to the water alive."
He said the men, aged 23 and 25 years old, faced number of charges in court last week including fishing waters protected from commercial fishing, unlawful use of traps and possess fish illegally taken.
"The 23 year-old man from Stuarts Point was fined $7,500 plus $249 court cost, while the 25-year-old man also from Stuarts Point was fined $6,500 plus $249 court costs and had his boat and motor seized."
Anyone with any information about illegal fishing should contact the Fishers Watch phoneline on 1800 043 536 or online