A pair of Chinese nationals have been caught using a screwdriver to catch nearly 90 undersized abalone at Port Fairy.
Junjun Lu, 34, and Jiajie Chen, 19, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Monday to exceeding the legal catch limit and possessing less than the minimum size for abalone.
The court heard on January 4 Lu picked up Chen from a Point Cook property and drove to Port Fairy. They arrived at Griffiths Island about 2.30pm and waded into waters less than two metres deep.
Lu used a screwdriver to remove several abalone.
Victorian fisheries attended the area about 6.40pm. A search of the pair's bags revealed 89 black lip abalone, 88 of which were undersized.
The smallest sized abalone was about 8.5 centimetres.
The court heard the catch limit west of the Hopkins River was five abalone at no less than 13 centimetres.
Lu told fisheries he planned to eat the abalone with his family. He said it was his first time catching and was aware that some of them were undersized.
Chen said he only obtained about seven or eight of the 89 abalone.
Magistrate Franz Holzer said the community needed to be aware of the laws surrounding rare seafood delicacies.
"Abalone are particularly scarce. They are a valuable and precious natural resource that needs to be respected," he said.
"If you take like products in the future, you could be going to jail."
Chen was placed on a good behaviour bond for two-years with conditions he donate $1000 to Fish Care Victoria. A conviction was not recorded.
Ly was convicted and fined $2500.
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