Fisheries officers have cracked the whip on illegal fishing across western NSW, which is putting unnecessary pressure on fish stocks already under stress from drought conditions.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSWDPI) Director Fisheries Compliance, Patrick Tully, said compliance patrols conducted since Easter have unearthed some concerning behaviour.
"Fisheries officers targeting illegal fishing activities found 57 people committing a total of 70 offences. While most offenders were issued official cautions for minor offences, 31 on-the-spot fines were issued totalling $9,250," Tully said.
"Eight prohibited-sized Murray cod and 22 Murray cod fillets were seized, along with 28 illegal set lines. A 42-year-old woman was issued on-the-spot fines totalling $1000 after being found in possession of five prohibited size Murray cod and taking more than daily bag limit."
Fisheries officers also patrolled the Barwon River between Collarenebri and Bourke over the June Long Weekend, with more than 150 recreational fishers inspected.
"While it was great to see the majority of fishers complying with the rules and enjoying the waterways around Collarenebri, Walgett, and Brewarrina - some fishers threaten to spoil it for others with irresponsible and illegal fishing," Tully said.
Twenty-four offences were detected and 25 items of illegal gear were seized including excess lines and traps.
Meantime, in south western NSW, fisheries officers targeted illegal fishing in a two-phase operation coinciding with the opening of the Murray Crayfish season.
A total of 568 people were checked and 150 offences were detected, including three matters to be referred for prosecution.
Ninety-nine Murray Crayfish, some carrying external eggs which are illegal to possess, were seized along with more than 30 illegal nets and traps, including a cast net. Fisheries officers also monitored trout spawning streams in the Monaro region checking 312 fishers.
Tully said compliance with the rules was generally good but 17 offences were detected on Eucumbene River, Thredbo River, Lake Jindabyne and Tantangara Dam.
"The courts take a dim view of illegal fishing too with a man convicted last month in Wentworth Local Court for unlawful use of eight traps and possessions of fish taken illegally from the Darling River near Pooncarie. He was fined $2,150 and given an intensive corrections order for 14 months."
If anyone suspects illegal fishing in NSW, they should report it to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via their online form.