A LITHGOW restaurant has been issued with a penalty notice after it was found to be in possession of 41 Abalone.
The Abalone weighing 2.8 kilograms were seized from a restaurant near Lithgow, and a $500 penalty notice was issued.
The fines were part of a crackdown on the possession and sale of recreationally caught fish by the NSW Department of Primary Indistries (DPI) Fisheries Officers.
In the past few weeks the officers have conducted 47 routine inspections, including in Dubbo where a restaurant has been issued with a penalty notice after it was found to be in possession of a 46cm prohibited sized Murray Cod.
NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance, Dr Andrew Moriarty, is reminding recreational fishers and restaurateurs to follow the rules that are set in place or face the consequences.
"Abalone are a priority and indictable species under the Fisheries Management Act 1994, and it is illegal for restaurants to buy, sell or possess abalone not legally grown via aquaculture or caught by appropriately licensed commercial fishers," he said.
Individuals can face fines of up to $22 000 for a first offence and $44 000 for any second or subsequent offence just for not having the correct records. Businesses can face fines of up to $110 000 for a first offence and $220 000 for any second or subsequent offence just for not having the correct records, not to mention up to 10 years imprisonment if found guilty of trafficking abalone or rock lobster.
Selling recreationally caught fish is a risk to the resource as well as to public health because it is not subject to the same stringent controls and handling procedures as legitimate commercially harvested fish.
"The Department takes this type of offence very seriously as recreationally caught fish cannot be sold under any circumstances.
"The community is increasingly rejecting all forms of illegal fishing and we thank them for their ongoing support in identifying these illegal operators."
If anyone suspects illegal activity in NSW, they should report it to the Fisher Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the online Report Illegal Activity Form.
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