Abalone offenders have been dealt tough penalties in Far South Coast courts recently, with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries officers playing a significant role in the men's apprehension.
DPI director of fisheries compliance Andrew Moriarty said a total of five men had been apprehended by Fisheries officers and charged for the possession of abalone in two separate incidents.
"The first incident has seen two men, who were apprehended by DPI Fisheries officers, in possession of 262 shucked abalone at the Aragunnu campground within the Mimosa Rocks National Park," Dr Moriarty said.
The DPI said one of the men pleaded not guilty but was later found guilty by the court while the second man pleaded guilty to his offences. The penalties related to charges for abalone trafficking and possession of shucked abalone.
"The cumulative total of penalties included 16 months' imprisonment, to be served by way of intensive correction orders, plus $12,250 in fines and costs," Dr Moriarty said.
"These penalties act as a warning to offenders, that heavy fines will be dealt if you are found guilty of these offences."
The second incident saw three men from the ACT plead guilty to joint possession of 95 abalone, of which 87 were prohibited size.
The men were sentenced at Bega Local Court on July 13.
"The men were apprehended by DPI Fisheries officers at Baronda Headland, locally known as Cowdroys within the Mimosa Rocks National Park near Tathra," Dr Moriarty said.
"The three men were fined a total of $12,000 for charges in relation to exceeding the possession limit of abalone in circumstances of aggravation and possession of prohibited size fish in circumstances of aggravation.
"Dive equipment was also seized by Fisheries officers for each matter and forfeited."
Dr Moriarty said the maximum penalties for abalone theft included fines of up to $88,000 and terms of imprisonment up to 10 years for abalone trafficking.
Rewards of up to $1000 are available for information that leads to a conviction of abalone thieves. Information can be reported to Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536 or via an online form.
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