Fishing blitz nets tuna hunters

FISHERIES officers fined a number of anglers for exceeding catch limits during a blitz at Portland.

Portland fisheries officers Charlie Cooper (kneeling) and Cameron McCallum (back) check Melbourne anglers Daniel Sacco, Kevin Gatt and Steve Felginger.  140609DW29 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Portland fisheries officers Charlie Cooper (kneeling) and Cameron McCallum (back) check Melbourne anglers Daniel Sacco, Kevin Gatt and Steve Felginger. 140609DW29 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

More than 160 people had their catches inspected as part of Operation Accolade during one of the busiest fishing weekends of the year.

Western regional fisheries officer Paul Millar said the blitz aimed to protect the southern bluefin tuna from overfishing by recreational anglers.

Mr Millar said six people were fined for exceeding the catch limit or being in possession of more than the catch limit of two of the tuna.

Mr Millar said one person was fined for filleting a tuna at sea and failing to bring the whole carcas to land and another was fined for not having a recreational fishing licence.

One person was also found to be illegally in possession of rock lobster pots.

Mr Millar said one group of six anglers were found at a roadblock with 23 southern bluefin tuna when they were only allowed to have 12.

A total of 16 tuna were seized in the operation, he said.

Mr Millar said fisheries were pleased to find that most anglers were complying with the regulations.

The number of infringements “reflected a compliance rate we expected to see”.

A total of nine fisheries officers were involved in Operation Accolade during the three days of the long weekend with some working covertly, Mr Millar said.

Boats and anglers’ catches were inspected both on the Southern Ocean and on land including at a roadblock that intercepted anglers travelling back to Melbourne.

Mr Millar said most of the inspections occurred on Sunday when favourable weather allowed many anglers to get out on the water.

“We inspected some as they landed. We inspected what they had stockpiled,” Mr Millar said.

He said one of the offences was detected as a result of a member of the public ringing the fishing offences hotline on 133474 with information.

Mr Millar encouraged people with information about fishing offences to call 13FISH.

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