Dodgy fishers snagged by police operation
A multi-agency operation on the Clarence River over the Australia Day period has netted a number of fishers busted for maritime safety and property offences.
Police from the Rural Crime Prevention Team in conjunction with NSW DPI Fisheries and NSW Maritime concluded Operation Manette, which ran from January 23 and over the Australia Day period.
The operation focused on fisheries, maritime safety and property offences, particularly in response to several recent reports of persons unlawfully interfering with commercial and recreational crab pots in the Clarence River and its tributaries.
Rural Crime Prevention Team Detective Sergeant Bennett Nolan said overall behaviour was positive.
"While it was disappointing to have detected several people doing the wrong thing, it was great to see the vast majority of people were enjoying their weekend on the water and respecting other fishers and waterway users," he said.
"This operation is part of our ongoing commitment to tackle crime against aquaculture industries around the state. We will continue working with our partner agencies to target these crimes in any way we can, including through proactive operations and joint investigations."
During the operation, officers from the three agencies stopped more than 110 vessels and spoke with numerous fishers and other waterway users, as well as monitoring compliance at boat ramps and fishing co-ops around Maclean, Yamba and Iluka.
A number of recreational fishers were issued written cautions in relation to offences including incorrect marking of crab pots and failing to pay the NSW recreational fishing fee, with several boat operators also issued formal warnings and education in relation to offences including not wearing life jackets when required and not carrying safety equipment.
Other matters arising throughout the operation included:
• About 9.55am on Saturday January 23 2021, a recreational fishing boat was stopped on the Clarence River near Iluka. The male operator was subject to an oral fluid test that produced a positive detection for an illicit substance. The man was also found to not be licensed to operate a boat, and was not wearing a lifejacket when boating alone. The man was arrested and taken to Maclean Police Station for a secondary test that also allegedly returned a positive detection. The sample has been sent for further testing prior to any formal criminal proceedings taking place.
• About 11.30am on Saturday January 23 2021, officers intercepted a vehicle towing a boat on Goodwood Island after the driver had been seen retrieving crab pots. Police allege the man, a professional fisherman, was in possession of a crab taken from a crab pot marked in another person's name. He was also found to have failed to submit a quota usage catch report as required by commercial fishers when they operate in the mud crab fishery. The boat trailer was also found to be unregistered. He will be issued with infringements totalling $1200 in relation to numerous fisheries offences.
• About 12.15pm on Saturday January 23 2021, a boat was stopped on the Clarence River near Iluka, after being seen towing two persons on a ski biscuit. The operator was subjected to a breath test which allegedly returned a positive reading. He was later subjected to a breath analysis which allegedly returned a reading in the low range prescribed concentration of alcohol. He will be issued with a Future Court Attendance Notice at a later date.
• At 5.40pm on Sunday January 24 2021, Rural Crime Investigators and Fisheries Officers spoke with a commercial fisherman for offences relating to the use of crab pots in excess of his commercial entitlement. He was issued with a Field Court Attendance Notice for contravening the condition of endorsement on licence to attend Maclean Local Court on February 25 2021.