Reel Deal: How Fisheries deals with illegal catches

Black beauty: Ivanka Matic fished the stones to nail this solid rock blackfish. (photos submitted for publication should be high res - at least 1MB)

Black beauty: Ivanka Matic fished the stones to nail this solid rock blackfish. (photos submitted for publication should be high res - at least 1MB)

There have been a few inquiries made on what DPI/Fisheries do with fish seized by fisheries officers, so to help clarify, they have issued a media release and confirm, they DO NOT take seized fish/shellfish home themselves.

Information courtesy Bureau of Meteorology

Information courtesy Bureau of Meteorology

NSW DPI Fisheries Officers will intentionally seize fish (including prawns, lobsters, abalone, crabs and oysters) when those fish are taken or are in possession contrary to NSW fishing rules and if live fish, they are usually photographed for evidence and returned to the water as soon as possible.

If the fish are dead, officers may choose to return the fish to the water in the presence of the alleged offender (the dead fish forms part of the food chain) or the fish may be retained and frozen for evidence. 

Sometimes officers will retain the seized fish and consign it for sale. The sale of seized fish is common for high value species such as Eastern Rock Lobster or where a commercial fisher may be involved and any proceeds of the sale of seized fish are held by DPI Fisheries pending the outcome of legal action. 

Occasionally fisheries officers may transfer seized fish to NSW DPI’s Science and Research Unit for ongoing project monitoring. 

Due to strict food safety requirements and because not all the fish seized are in a good condition or kept on ice, NSW DPI rarely donates seized fish to charities or nursing homes these days as some recovered are buried in sand, hidden in cars and boats, or left in buckets.

Anyone who has fish seized from them is issued with a notice of seizure (a receipt) that shows what the officer seized, its condition and how many fish were taken and NSW DPI Fisheries has very strict policies in place to ensure that all seizures are managed, stored or disposed of in an accountable and transparent manner.

For more information regarding the NSW DPI Fisheries Compliance Unit and duties of fisheries officers visithttp://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/compliance

If you suspect illegal fishing activity report it by calling Fishers Watch on 1800 043536 or report it online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/compliance/report-illegal-activity.