A DUBBO man described as one of the worst illegal fishing offenders in western NSW has received a seven-month jail sentence.
John Austin Gaydon will serve the time in the community under strict supervision after Dubbo Local Court Magistrate Andrew Eckhold imposed an Intensive Correction Order yesterday.
Gaydon, 42, will be required to complete 32 hours community service per month.
He will be subject to electronic monitoring, random unannounced home visits, drug testing and a curfew.
By order of the court Gaydon has been banned from engaging in fishing activities west of the Great Dividing Range for 12 months.
Magistrate Eckhold said the Intensive Correction Order should not be seen as a soft option.
"If there are any breaches you will go to jail," the magistrate said.
Gaydon was brought before the court on charges of taking declared fish, possessing prohibited fishing gear, possessing illegally taken fish, possessing prohibited sized fish, leaving hand-held lines unattended in inland flowing waters and harming endangered fish.
Gaydon was one of three men arrested after a covert surveillance operation conducted on the Macquarie River by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries officers.
Co-offender Shane Jones, 35, appeared before Dubbo Local Court Magistrate Robert Rabbidge last month on charges of possessing prohibited sized fish, harming fish of an endangered population, possessing illegally taken fish and possessing prohibited fishing gear.
Jones was fined a total of $4000, ordered to serve 200 hours community service and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond. A boat, outboard engine, box trailer and cooler boxes seized by fisheries officers were forfeited to the Crown.
Charges against a third man are yet to be finalised by the court.
DPI director of fisheries compliance Glenn Tritton said the three men were caught illegally fishing downstream of Brocklehurst in October last year.
"Fisheries officers observed the men using a number of setlines with which they captured and kept a number of threatened and protected species," Mr Tritton said.
"The men were apprehended by fisheries officers and police and their boat, trailer and vehicle were inspected."
Officers seized 54 rigged handlines, four Murray cod (three of which were prohibited size) and seven eel tailed catfish (which are protected in western flowing waterways).
Mr Tritton said the use of illegal and excess fishing gear and the taking of protected species were serious offences with tough penalties.
"Fishers can only use or be in possession of two rigged fishing lines per person when fishing in inland NSW with a maximum of two hooks per line," he said.
"Further restrictions apply to notified trout waters. It is against the law to set and leave fishing lines unattended. Fishers must be within 50 metres and line of site of their set fishing lines."
Mr Tritton urges anyone who suspects illegally fishing to contact the Fish Watch phoneline on 1800 043 536 or lodge a report online.