Two Far South Coast men could be facing prison time and large fines after they were allegedly found in possession of more than 260 abalone on the coast south of Eden.
Eden Water Police in partnership with NSW Fisheries officers, have arrested and charged a 35-year-old man from Bega, and a 21-year-old man from Moruya, for a range of offences in relation to the illegal capture of black lip abalone (Haliotis Rubra).
The two men were stopped in a vehicle on a remote track in Ben Boyd National Park near Mowarry Point last Sunday, after being observed diving for abalone.
The men were also observed shucking the abalone on land nearby.
Eden Water Police Sergeant Steven Judd said a search of the vehicle located a total of 266 shucked abalone, while a search of the coastline near their dive site located 262 abalone shells.
205 of these shells were of a prohibited size.
The shucked abalone, the abalone shells, and all of the men's diving equipment was seized.
Both men have been charged with a range of offences in relation to the possession of an unlawful amount of abalone, and are due to appear at Eden Local Court in April.
“In partnering with NSW Fisheries, Eden Water Police will continue to target the offence of abalone poaching and bring people before the court,” Sergeant Judd said.
“We need to protect this resource.”
Sergeant Judd said abalone fishing is an important commercial, cultural and recreational industry but that it is, and needs to remain, highly regulated to “ensure its ongoing viability”.
The Fisheries Management Act 1994 lists abalone as a 'Priority Species and Indictable Species', with a personal possession limit of two per person. The minimum legal size for abalone is 117 millimetres.
There are also allowances within the act in relation to Aboriginal Cultural Fishing for abalone.