To catch an oyster thief or three

THREE men are facing six months in jail and fines of up to $11,000 after stealing oysters from a commercial grower south of Coffs Harbour last week.

The men were in possession of 300 oysters allegedly stolen from a commercial grower's lease near Limeburners Creek.

The men face various charges which carry maximum fines of up to $11,000 and six months imprisonment.

The incident comes at a time when a joint operation between the DPI, the NSW Food Authority and the police has been launched to deter oyster theft and protect consumers from black market produce.

Operation Trident includes ongoing covert and overt operations along the coast, and DPI Fisheries manager, Glenn Tritton, said the high tech operation aims to break up the black market that is responsible for ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of oysters each year.

NSW Food Authority director general, Alan Coutts, said the black market oyster trade not only impacted the livelihood of primary producers but could pose a health risk to consumers as well.

“Stolen oysters are not monitored for their quality, so at this time of year in particular it is a timely reminder for consumers to only buy oysters from a reputable supplier,” Mr Coutts said.



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